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We don't like you, Cowboys tell Gallen

Paul Gallen

Cronulla captain Paul Gallen's unpopularity hasn't abated in Townsville with North Queensland determined to fight fire with fire in Saturday's NRL knockout final.
We don't like you, Cowboys tell Gallen
by AAP

By Jim Morton

BRISBANE, Sept 11 AAP - Cronulla captain Paul Gallen's unpopularity hasn't abated in Townsville with North Queensland determined to fight fire with fire in Saturday's NRL knockout final.

Still seething over a Gallen crusher tackle on Scott Bolton when they faced the Sharks two weeks ago, the Cowboys are on red alert for the NSW and Sharks captain's niggle.

Opposite number Joel Riethmuller says the Test and Blues lock can expect a fiery elimination finals outing at Allianz Stadium.

"Not too many people like him I don't think," Riethmuller told reporters on Wednesday. "A few boys here probably don't like him either."

Gallen left Queensland fans fuming with his high tackle and punch on Nate Myles in this year's State of Origin opener, and his illegal tackle on Bolton did nothing to improve his reputation up north.

He served a week's suspension and now returns against a team that's fully aware they must take up the fight to Gallen, who doesn't want an open game that would play to the Cowboys' attacking strengths.

"You have to be careful but you have to go out there and get into him and hopefully frustrate him and put him off his game," Riethmuller said in Townsville.

"It's going to be a big task for us to stay out of their niggle and hopefully get a bit back on them.

"We have to stay calm-headed and not let them get at us in that way.

"They do have players who do play hard footy and it can get frustrating at times but it's all part of it."

The Cowboys do take the confidence of their 31-18 victory at Shark Park two weeks ago into the sudden-death encounter but Cronulla are set to be boosted by the return of playmaker Todd Carney.

"They're a great team and they got into us two weeks ago," second-rower Gavin Cooper told AAP.

"They were without Todd Carney then so we expect them to be a completely different side with him playing."

Seasoned trio Riethmuller, Gavin Cooper and Glenn Hall stand as one of the most under-rated back-rows in the competition but they have stood tall since Riethmuller replaced lock Dallas Johnson (knee) after round 17.

They've played a major role as North Queensland have turned around a sorry 6-12 record with a six-match streak to make the top eight.

"Five or six weeks ago we were written off and we've come from (13th) to make eighth spot," Riethmuller said.

"We've been playing sudden-death footy for the last five weeks, we just have to treat (Saturday) the same."




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