SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 10: Paul Gallen of the Sharks watches on from the bench during the round 14 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Wests Tigers at Southern Cross Group Stadium on June 10, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

He’s the only man in history to captain Cronulla to a premiership, but surely it’s time for Paul Gallen to hang up the boots at seasons end.

Gallen debuted for the Sharks back in 2001, amassing 315 games for Cronulla, with the 2016 NRL premiership the highlight. While he may be the oldest player in the competition, Gallen’s form has been above and beyond what you’d expect of the 36 year-old, proving why he’s the incumbent Dally M Lock of the Year.

But it’s time for the captain to walk away.

While Gallen has been excellent in recent times, re-signing the skipper will only halt the development of some of the fantastic back-rowers the club has coming through, and possibly even see players exit the club in search of a better opportunity.

While Luke Lewis is expected to retire at seasons end, Gallen’s exit will see a changing of the guard, with the likes of Kurt Capewell, Scott Sorensen and Jack Williams all fighting for a first-grade spot, with Jason Bukuya, Wade Graham and Joseph Paulo the obvious choices.

Having acquired Aaron Woods in the past week, the Sharks have identified a man who can come in and do a job just like Gallen, a metre-eating, no frills, offloading prop.

Reports suggest Gallen wants at least one more season, but the New South Welshmen runs the risk of snaring the dreaded ‘one season too many’ tag, a phrase slapped onto Jonathan Thurston by Greg Alexander earlier this year.

The lock forward is also quickly zoning in on the NRL’s most unwanted record – the most losses in history. As it stands, Gallen is a mere nine losses short of equalling the record.

He also holds the record for most series losses as a State of Origin captain.

It’s been a fantastic career, spanning two decades, but it’s time for Paul Gallen to walk away at his peak, or risk tarnishing his record.

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