AS they celebrated their grand final win in the dressing room together, Mick Ennis and Paul Gallen shared a moment.
As they sat there in reflection together, Ennis was sure his skipper would retire with him.
Speaking in Fox Sports’ pre-game show for the Cronulla v Brisbane season opener, Ennis revealed what had changed in Gallen in the hours after he lifted the trophy that may have brought his retirement forward.
“It was a nice moment me and Gal had after the grand final actually,” Ennis said. “We sat side-by-side at our lockers and he had the trophy sitting there and he was having a beer and I went and had a shower.
“When I came back he was still sitting there and he was right back in his chair and the trophy was in front of him and I just had this feeling running through me where I thought, ‘the big fella’s going to walk with me here’.
“And I just got some emotions like that was it for him.”
Watching Gallen’s focus and determination turn to incredible satisfaction clearly moved his teammate but it ended up being a brief change in mood before the 35-year-old reloaded and started to prepare for 2017.
“He’s certainly motivated, he’s trained really well over summer,” Ennis continued.
“It’s surprising, I saw his motivation in that fight when he fought Junior Paulo over the summer and just that will to win is still there.
“It’ll be interesting to see the longevity. The challenge for him is rounds one to 20. The older guys can really get up when finals time comes around and it gets a bit warmer.
“But it’s going to be interesting to see how it goes.”
Despite Cronulla’s first up loss at the hands of the Broncos, Gallen immediately proved his attitude and work rate is a long way removed from a player who’s already retired in his mind.
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If there are players who have lost their hunger over summer after breaking Cronulla’s premiership drought, Gallen didn’t appear to be among them.
Origin great Steve Roach suggested that a player on Gallen’s pay packet would find it difficult to retire and said it would be hard for money not to play its part in the decision.
“When you retire, you’re never going to earn that money ever again,” Roach said.
“I know a lot of people say you shouldn’t talk about money and all that but if that’s going to be your big cop and you’re 35, obviously you’d be thinking ‘I’ve got to think about it’ for your family.”