Gallen Toys With Idea Of 19th NRL Season

Could he do it?

Gallen Toys With Idea Of 19th NRL Season Getty Images

With the prestigious Monty Porter Medal around his neck as Cronulla's player of the year, captain Paul Gallen won't rule out a record-breaking 19th NRL season.

Having also received the Tommy Bishop Award on Monday at the Sharks' presentation night, after being judged the best by his peers, the 36-year-old Gallen knows he's good enough to play on.

This year's NRL stats back that up. Gallen led the competition in most runs (484), most hit-ups (432) along with his 4582 metres - second only to Dally M co-winner Jason Taumalolo - alongside 57 tackle busts, 53 offloads and two tries.

The former Australian vice-captain and NSW State of captain has already signed a one-year deal for 2018 but says he won't shut the door on 2019.

"I'm not going to rule it out," Gallen said.

Former Sharks skipper Andrew Ettingshausen has the NRL record at 18 seasons, which Gallen and teammate Luke Lewis will equal next year.

"It's a really hard one because you get people joking about your age and things like that, but just judge me on what I'm doing on the field and see what happens," Gallen told AAP.

"Obviously, I've got to do that again and see how the body holds up and the mind holds up and see if I still enjoy it."

Coach Shane Flanagan would probably make the final call.

"I think he's the greatest player the club has ever had," Flanagan told the 400 dinner guests as he hung the Monty Porter Medal around Gallen's neck.

Later, Gallen was still blushing.

"Very humbling to be considered like that ... it's almost a bit hard to take because I don't like comparing eras," he said, adding he never saw Steve Rogers or Gavin Miller play.

"ET (Ettingshausen) was the only one I saw play."

Gallen said he was still numb after the Sharks nosedived against North Queensland in the first week of finals, ending their premiership defence.

"It's been the hardest exit from the club competition I've ever had - that includes losing grand final qualifiers. It's just an empty, numb feeling because of what it could have been," Gallen said.

"We underachieved."

However, the Sharks' roster changes little in key-position departures, apart from losing centre Jack Bird to Brisbane and winger Gerard Beale to the Warriors. But Australian and NSW Origin back Josh Dugan is on his way from St George Illawarra.

"He's a really good signing. He'll have a bit of a bee in his bonnet about this year and what went on. He'll be out to prove he's a top-10 player," Gallen said.

"We've got a really good young group of players coming through who will excel as first graders," he said referring to Cronulla's minor premiership-winning under-20s team.

"And a guy like (hooker) Jayden Brailey already there - he's only going to get better and better.

"Next season, we're definitely starting with a goal of finishing top four."

- AAP

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