Paul Gallen has anointed Jack Williams as the man to fill his No.13 jersey when he retires.
Paul Gallen has anointed Jack Williams as the man to fill his No.13 jersey when he retires.

Gallen anoints successor at Sharks

PAUL Gallen will spend his swansong NRL season mentoring Jack Williams to take over his Cronulla No.13 jumper in 2020.

After contemplating retirement for several years, the veteran will finally hang up his boots at the end of 2019.

Given he is headed into his 19th season and first skippered the club in 2007, he is going to leave a sizeable hole at Shark Park.

Bubbling away at the Sharks is one of the most exciting crop of youngsters in the club's history which includes Williams, a hard-running middle forward blessed with footwork and an offload.

He is expected to become a fixture of the side after making four appearances last year before having his season ended by a pectoral injury.

The 22-year-old is widely viewed as Gallen's successor and will learn from him during the former NSW skipper's final year.

"(Williams) has had a ridiculous pre-season with how good he's gone," Gallen said.

"How fast he is, how fit he is, how strong he is. I look at him athletically and think he could be anything.

"That doesn't mean everything as far as being a rugby league player, but it's a fair start."

Jack Williams has impressed Sharks’ skipper Paul Gallen this pre-season.
Jack Williams has impressed Sharks’ skipper Paul Gallen this pre-season.

The 37-year-old Gallen goes into the season on 326 games - only two behind Sharks legend Andrew Ettingshausen on the club's all-time list for most appearances.

And should he stay fit and avoid suspension, he will reach the 350-game milestone late in the season.

He has begun mapping out his life post-football and says he wants to remain involved in the club in some capacity - either as an assistant coach or an ambassadorial role.

However he flatly denied he wanted to be a head coach, saying: "I don't have any ambitions to be a head coach. I've copped enough s*** for 20 years.

"Whether people like me or not, or whether people think what I've done in the game has been good or not, I've been involved in everything in the game," Gallen said.

"There's nothing I haven't been involved in. The good, the bad - everything.

"I don't think there's a player in the past 20 years that has been involved in the things I've been involved in. That's not always good but it's experience.

"I think I can teach people a hell of a lot. I've been in recruitment here over the years, all sorts of things."

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