Bennett's admiration for Sharks' milestone man
Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has given Paul Gallen a glowing endorsement ahead of his 300th NRL match, saying that he has always admired the Cronulla Sharks enforcer.
Gallen will become just the 29th player to reach the 300-game milestone when the Sharks play the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Even more impressive is the fact all of these matches have come for the one club, with Gallen only the 11th player to achieve the feat.
A polarising figure both on and off the field, Gallen has never taken a backwards step since his debut in 2001.
It has been the case at club, state and international level, and Bennett expects more of the same on Friday as both teams try and stay in the competition's top four.
"I'm sure they will [lift for him]. I've always admired him. I like what be brings because he's tough and uncompromising. That's how he's been his whole career," Bennett said.
"He's made plenty of enemies along the way and he's made plenty of friends. That's what a good forward should be about."
A former captain of the New South Wales Blues, Gallen has been public enemy No.1 north of the border for much of his career.
Never afraid to speak his mind, Gallen has done his best to rile up Queenslanders over the years and Bennett believes Gallen's actions have been good for the game.
Always one to create a sense of theatre and throw fuel on the fire, players like Gallen are a must in the competition according to Bennett.
"If it ever stops then people will lose a lot of interest. He's been a really good player and played tough every week he's ever played so you have to admire that," he said.
"He's also got a strong enough personality to have self-confidence in what he says and what he believes in."
Gallen will lead a desperate Sharks side on Friday night, with Shane Flanagan's men needing to win to avoid a possible drop to seventh position on the competition table.
Bennett is expecting Cronulla's pack to be fired up as they look to become the first side to win back-to-back NRL premierships since the Broncos in 1992 and 1993.
"They are a challenging [pack]. They won the premiership [last year]," he said.
"They are a good football team. They are still in this year's competition and are not out of it by any stretch of the imagination.
"They are on the same points as we are so there's not much between the teams."
Gallen is not the only man who will celebrate a milestone on Friday, with Bennett set to coach his 600th game for the Broncos.