National News

Star-filled Sharks Gallen's doing: Dugan

One doesn't need to look too far down Cronulla's team list for proof that the retiring Paul Gallen is more than just their beloved NRL captain.

For years, he's been the Sharks' chief recruitment officer, too.

Gallen was often key in luring stars from rival clubs, including current teammates Josh Dugan, Aaron Woods and Josh Morris.

And there were the former teammates too, from the likes of Michael Ennis, Luke Lewis, and even bad boy Todd Carney.

It was part of the draw of being the longest-serving NSW skipper.

"To get an offer from here with a lot of blokes that I knew, my old captain from NSW, it was pretty cool," Woods said.

"He rang me up and said: 'What's taking you so long?' He just told me: 'When are you getting here? He said: 'C'mon mate, you need to play finals footy'.

"It was the first time in seven years (for me) last year."

Dugan said being led by the man who he made his State of Origin and Kangaroos debut under was one of the biggest appeals of moving from St George Illawarra.

"Without Gal, I don't think the club would've had the bargaining power to get the players that they've got now," Dugan said.

"The club's got to thank him for a lot of that I think.

"The roster we've got now, it'd be a disappointment if we didn't make the finals and a let-down to not only our fans, but to Gal and the club as well."

However Gallen's most significant lure could be the man who had been cast as the heir apparent almost as soon as he entered the front door.

Having come to grips with a break-up at Penrith, Wade Graham was seriously entertaining the prospect of teaming up with Johnathan Thurston in Townsville.

"A bit of interest from other clubs, (but) it came down to North Queensland or Cronulla. I was leaning towards North Queensland," Graham said.

"I was playing in the halves back then and obviously to learn outside JT was a big opportunity. I had to weight a lot of things up."

But it was Gallen's pitch that won him over.

"It was a big vote of confidence for a young fella to have the captain of the Sharks who was captain of NSW at that stage, and vice-captain of Australia, wanting you to come down to the club and try and be successful together," Graham said.

"That was definitely the clincher for me."

© AAP 2019