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Title: ... (p30) Paul Gallen talks footy with legendary hard man Cliff Watson

Paul Gallen talks footy with legendary hard man Cliff Watson

Dean Ritchie, The Sunday Telegraph, April 14, 2013

IT took a tough old Englishman who played to put a smile back on the face of Paul Gallen.

The Sharks skipper has played this season under increasing pressure through the destabilising ASADA investigation.

Gallen needed a good laugh - and it arrived courtesy of Sharks legend Cliff Watson.

Gallen and Watson, the former Great Britain prop, met to discuss the infamous and vicious 1973 grand final between Manly and Cronulla at the SCG.

Watson, now 72, spoke about the past, present and the notorious grand final.

Gallen first asked for Watson's defining moment in the 1973 grand final.

"Bloody losing," Watson said. "A lot of people said had it gone another five or 10 minutes we could have scored.

"We did the hard work and it paid off, but unfortunately they scored two breakaway tries.

"Bobby Fulton, one try was lucky but only he could have scored it. The pass wasn't meant for him."

Gallen: Does the Origin softening-up period compare to the 1973 grand final?

Watson: "It's getting toward it, but unfortunately the rules won't allow softening-up periods like we used to have.

"In our days, tackles crept up above the shoulders occasionally. Rules don't allow that these days.

"The extra body contact these days, though, is very, very hard.

"I watch a bit now and think, 'Jesus Christ, that used to happen to me'.

"When you are on the sidelines watching and listening, you don't know how much punishment your body does take."

Gallen: How would you go these days?

Watson: "I wouldn't be on the field with my style of play. Ned (Noel) Kelly, he and I would have plenty of hot showers.

"I was a head-down, arse-up player. You'd have to curb it, but I couldn't adapt to today's game.

"With my discipline, I couldn't handle the every day training. My private life is mine. I used to bundy-off from football and that was it.

"I'm not excited about the modern game. I think you should be able to stay on the field for the entire 80 minutes. I don't like the interchange rule. It is injustice for the player coming off."

Gallen: Should the shoulder charge have been banned?

Watson: "Naaaah. A shoulder charge has never killed anyone. You won't be able to touch them next."

Gallen: Hardest player you played against?

Watson: "Oh, Christ, I played for 17 years, it was a long time. In Australia, 'Satts' (John Sattler), 'Lurch' (John O'Neill). They have to be there. Ned Kelly. They were hard players.

"In England, I played against Vince Karalius. (Derek) 'Rocky' Turner. You could go on forever."

Gallen: Best player today?

Watson: "The fullback from Melbourne, Billy Slater. I have seen a lot of them, Graeme Langlands, but this bloke is the complete package. He can do anything. He knows how to attack and can defend. He reads the game very well and is always chiming in at the right time."
Appears in the following pages ....P30_Cliff WATSON
Date of posting ... 14-Apr-2013
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