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Galuvao grand final bid set to fall short

Manly coach Geoff Toovey has seemingly closed the door on the greatest comeback story of the season, denying retired forward Joe Galuvao a dream grand final appearance.
Galuvao grand final bid set to fall short
by AAP

By Ben Horne

SYDNEY, Oct 3 AAP - Manly coach Geoff Toovey has seemingly closed the door on the greatest comeback story of the season, denying retired forward Joe Galuvao a dream grand final appearance.

Galuvao says he feels he could do a job for the Sea Eagles against the Sydney Roosters on Sunday if called upon.

However, it's his understanding a shock comeback from the achilles injury that's kept him out for the majority of the year is not an option, because Toovey has made it clear he'll only be selecting from the 19 players named.

The veteran of two premierships (Penrith 2003, Manly 2011) and a losing grand final (Parramatta 2009) announced his retirement after snapping his achilles more than five months ago.

That was until Richie Fa'aoso's neck injury opened up a spot on the Manly bench, and it was revealed on Wednesday that Galuvao's dedicated recovery had made him a genuine option.

However, it appears Toovey isn't prepared to take the risk and will back either David Gower or James Hasson.

"As much as I'd love to be out there with the boys, it's down to the 19 Tooves has picked so far," the 35-year-old said.

"I'm confident I can play but that's not to be unfortunately.

"The boys are pumped and I wish them well."

The fairytale finish may not eventuate for Galuvao, but according to close mate Frank Puletua, nothing can diminish what he believes is one of the "great" NRL careers.

Galuvao has been to five clubs since he debuted as a fullback for the Warriors in 1998.

At the Warriors and later Souths he was told he had no future in the game.

Since Rabbitohs owner Russell Crowe urged him to hang up the boots in 2007, he's played in two grand finals.

Galuvao may not be a big-name player, but he has continually fought on and found ways to rise back to the top.

"That's why I think it's a great career," said his former Penrith teammate, Puletua.

"There's times when the profile of a player can carry them over some of the more difficult times. But I think Joey being able to come back from really the lows of lows you can have in rugby league, where you get thrown outside the unit and basically shown the door.

"To come back from that is special."

Puletua says Galuvao would be remembered for being an integral part of Penrith's resurgence in the early 2000s and more importantly for his hard work, ethics, versatility and influence on the players around him.

He thinks of Galuvao as a brother.

The pair spoke on Tuesday and Puletua says he's not prepared to rule Galuvao out of the grand final - given how much Manly could benefit from his experience.

However, as a player who was never lucky enough to play in a grand final, he doesn't quite know how to take Galuvao's golden run.

"I said if you are going to play, don't call me, because you make me sick," Puletua joked.

"He's keeping his cards close to his chest, but I wouldn't write him off. I know he won't detract from the team and they'll probably gain a lot more by having him out there."


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