I hope I speak on behalf of many when sincerely requesting that Paul Gallen keep his mouth well and truly closed on matters pertaining to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
Earlier this week, Gallen felt the need to enter into the discussion around the clubs’ long and problematic rebuild, the unfortunate injury to five-eighth Kieran Foran and the blue and whites’ claim for salary cap relief.
The former Cronulla Sharks captain, who now works in the media offering his expert opinions and thoughts on all things rugby league, seemed a little miffed with the A$350,000 salary cap relief coming Canterbury’s way.
That money is compensation for the Bulldogs’ one million dollar man who will be lucky to see the field in 2020. When Foran suffered a serious shoulder injury whilst representing New Zealand in November, significant surgery was the only option if the star pivot wished to play rugby league again.
According to NRL rules, the club is entitled to request compensation and did so. To make matters worse, Chris Smith also suffered a season ending injury in the All-Stars match and the club could well feel somewhat cursed leading into a season that many had hoped would be one of significant improvement.
Canterbury coach Dean Pay openly expressed his belief that the NRL could do more to protect clubs that lose star players in representative fixtures; wondering where he is meant to pick up another Kieran Foran for $350,000.
He can’t. However, Gallen had little sympathy, citing the rough and tumble physical nature of rugby league and suggesting that injuries are par for the course, expected and something for which compensation should not be forthcoming.
In an interview with WWOS radio, Gallen made his view quite clear. “Injuries are part and parcel of the game, if you want to buy those players and they get injured playing rep footy, I just think it’s bad luck.”
He doubled down by suggesting that the Bulldogs and other clubs may have in fact contributed to their own situations by paying “overs” to prominent players.
The irony of his comment was not lost on many, with the Sharks salary cap issues of 2015 and 2017 (they were of course compliant in the premiership year of 2016) an obvious attempt to illegally pay overs to lure quality players to the club.
Moreover, former Sharks coach Shane Flanagan, whilst serving a 12 month ban for his role in the supplements saga, made illegal contact with players and played a role in both recruitment and retention. Hence, not only were the books cooked, they were also partly cooked by a man not permitted to even be in the kitchen.
The broader rugby league community now seems prepared to allow much of the goings on at Cronulla to pass, with Flanagan now returning to the coaching ranks at St George-Illawarra and the 2016 premiership trophy still on the mantle-piece.
Perhaps as a means of diversion, Gallen has chosen to offer his two cents worth in the form of advice to the Bulldogs. Quite frankly, the club should have told him thanks, but no thanks and might we also suggest you have a little dig around the Sharks’ back yard before you storm into ours with your thoughtless words.
Insultingly and in the same interview, Gallen took a veiled swipe at Foran when he suggested that clubs often err by “paying overs” and not establishing clearly that a player is “at the club for the right reasons.”
Obviously the acquisition and eventual departure of former Bulldogs full-back Ben Barba from the Sharks has escaped Gallen’s memory. The sole reason behind that deal was premiership success, with full knowledge of Barba’s troubled past available to the club and ignored by the powers at be.
It seems Gallen’s free advice might be a little “pot calling the kettle black”. It would also be fair to suggest that Sharks utility Josh Dugan may very well be the king of “overs”.
Gallen seems to have slipped nicely into his role in the mainstream media where the odd “dog bash” is par for the course. He will fit in well.
However, it might be more productive if he actually took the advice given by many Bulldogs fans after hearing his comments; kept his mouth closed and worried a little more about keeping his own house in order.