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Paul Gallen and Cameron Smith chosen to launch NRL 2017 season

Caption: Photo: James BrickwoodThey’ve been sworn enemies for more than a decade, but Paul Gallen and Cameron Smith will put aside a long-standing rivalry to launch the 2017 NRL season on Thursday.
Nanjing Night Net

In what will be a fitting way to begin his 17th and likely last season, Gallen has been chosen by the NRL to launch the new year alongside the architect of so much agony throughout his career.

It’s normally Smith who holds bragging rights when the pair come together given Queensland’s Origin dominance, but after leading the Sharks to their maiden title against Smith’s Melbourne Storm last October, it’s the Cronulla captain who gets the rare opportunity to gloat.

The two veterans will launch a campaign in Martin Place on Thursday afternoon that highlights the bright young stars of the game – including Blues trio Aaron Woods, David Klemmer and Josh Mansour.

It caps off quite a remarkable story for Gallen, who only two years ago was at loggerheads with the game’s governing body over the treatment of the Sharks during the well-publicised ASADA saga.

He took aim at former NRL boss Dave Smith on social media and made plenty of enemies  at rugby league central, such was his displeasure during an emotion-charged period in his life.

But the redemption story, which began with a long-awaited premiership last season, continues to build momentum after Gallen received the honour of launching the new year alongside his Queensland counterpart in front of the other 14 NRL captains.

The NRL has gone away from appointing players to launch the season in recent years after a number of off-field incidents came back to bite them.

However, the decision to appoint the two grand final captains is a sign of their faith in the pair to reflect the values of the game and is also a reward for more than 30 years of service to the code between them.

It’s not the first time two players have been chosen to open the season, with Greg Inglis and Shaun Johnson handed the honours for the launch in Auckland in 2015.

“It’s an honour to have been asked to officially open the season at Thursday’s NRL Launch,” Smith said.

“I’m excited for the season, 2016 showed how close the competition is. All players put an enormous amount of work in over the pre-season and now 16 teams have the opportunity to win a premiership, it’s going to be a fiercely  contested 2017 season. Heading into my 16th season , I’m looking forward to it just as much as I have any other year.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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