Why Paul Gallen snubbed Cameron Smith

Australian rugby league player Paul Gallen. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Australian rugby league player Paul Gallen. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

The secret reason behind Paul Gallen's controversial walk-off during Cameron Smith's Origin speech has been revealed.

The retiring NSW skipper has continued to deny there was "any malice" behind his decision to turn his back on his Queensland counterpart during the post-match presentations after Origin III but Fox Sports NRL reporter James Hooper says there's more to it.

"According to the NSW camp, Paul Gallen feels as though he was vilified and sledged throughout the course of the game," Hooper told NRL Tonight on Thursday.

"The Queenslanders picked on him and suggested that he was responsible for the losing culture - they've only won one series out of 11 - and it was his farewell party, yet there weren't that many fans there. There were only 61,000 people out there at ANZ Stadium."

There was a tense moment on the NRL Footy Show on Thursday night when Gallen and Queensland champion Johnathan Thurston - who were on the show's panel - were asked to discuss the controversy.


Thurston looked Gallen in the eye and told him what he thought. "I'm just a proud member of our team that has a really good winning culture," Thurston said. "There's no way that I'm ... having a go at anyone but as a team and as a unit, I thought it was pretty disrespectful."

Gallen smiled after hearing Thurston's message before attempting to smooth over the situation. "There's definitely no malice in it whatsoever," Gallen said. "If you heard my comments about Cameron Smith, I've got nothing but admiration and respect for the bloke. He's the best player I've played with or against or ever seen ... There's no way I'd disrespect that bloke. Even the Queensland team as a whole, I actually congratulated them on their win and I acknowledge that not only do they have a group of champion players but they're also a champion team."

But Hooper for one isn't buying Gallen's excuses and proceeded to completely tear apart the veteran's legacy.

"The way I see it, that's simply sour grapes," Hooper said. "Paul Gallen's legacy as a footballer ... look, I think he's going to be remembered primarily as a bad sport surrounding a lot of things.

"If you look at the classy sports people around the world - the Roger Federers, the Steve Waughs, those types of characters - they're statesmen, they're leaders in every essence of the word. Cameron Smith's certainly one that springs to mind in rugby league.

"But in the case of Paul Gallen, you can go back over his career - whether you want to be grabbing opposition players on the wheels (testicles), racially vilifying opposition players, the peptides, all that sort of jazz - the rap sheet's a mile long.

"In this instance I just feel it is really poor taste and poor sportsmanship and I think Queensland and the game of rugby league is going to remember Paul Gallen for all the wrong reasons for a long, long time."

Yesterday, an angry Queensland claimed Gallen's post-match snub would inspire them to extend their State of Origin dominance.

The Maroons could barely control their rage over Gallen turning his back and leading NSW away during Smith's speech after the Blues' 18-14 game three win on Wednesday night.

After raising the Origin trophy to mark Queensland's 10th series win in 11 years, Smith was paying tribute to Gallen while the seemingly-oblivious NSW captain walked off.

It was a bad look after Gallen had criticised Queensland for being "bad winners" ahead of his 24th and final Origin.

Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston said the snub had put a "fire in the belly" for 2017. "Yeah, no doubt about it," he said. "I don't want to get into a slanging match here but it was pretty disrespectful.

"I think that typifies what that team is about."

Gallen did not help his cause when asked about the incident, saying he "didn't even notice" Smith's post-match ceremony speech. Smith was clearly not impressed after also accepting the Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series.

"It's something our team wouldn't do," he said.

Smith said Queensland made a point of staying on the field during Gallen's post-match victory speech after NSW's rare series win in 2014 which snapped eight straight years of Maroons dominance.

"We didn't walk away. We made a point of staying there for Paul's speech and him lifting the shield and congratulating their victory," he said.

"That's what we are about."

Queensland great Gorden Tallis compared Gallen's snub with the Blues' now infamous post-try celebrations during their 56-16 game three win in 2000.

"The greatest thing is that's our motivation for next year," Tallis told Triple M radio.

"There was the hand grenade (try celebration) 10 or so years ago and now there's that.

"They just keep on motivating the squad every year." Smith said he wouldn't lose too much sleep over Gallen's "bad winners" tag.

"Gal's been involved in the boxing game and it's that showmanship really, trying to pump up the series and he does a good job at it," he said.

"I think we have been gracious and humble with our victories, same when we lost in 2014.

"Gal can say whatever he wants. We are comfortable in our skin."

- News.com with AAP

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