Crazy truth behind infamous coin toss drama
CAMERON Smith's battles with Paul Gallen in the NRL and State of Origin remain one of rugby league's most one-sided rivalries, but there is one category where the Sharks' captain has his sparring partner beat.
Gallen revealed on Monday night the extent to which he enjoyed superiority in his running psychological warfare skirmishes with Smith.
Smith clearly enjoys a comfortable advantage on the win-loss column in their many on-field confrontations, but when it comes to mind games it's advantage Gallen.
The former Blues captain has now said his ability to get inside Smith's head during the coin toss ahead of the 2016 NRL grand final was a key factor in the Sharks beating the Storm at ANZ Stadium to break the club's premiership drought.
It wasn't the only time Gallen attempted to burrow into Smith's melon during a coin toss on the field.
Earlier that season, Gallen had attempted the same move that he executed to perfection at the 2016 NRL season decider.
Gallen's bizarre attempt to corrupt the coin toss process during the 2016 State of Origin series might not have come off - but it went off without a hitch before the 2016 grand final.
On both occasions the coin landed in Smith's favour, but on both occasions Gallen pretended he'd won the toss.
Gallen told Channel 9's 100% Footy on Monday night of his pure genius thought process behind the move.
"I'll tell you a good story about the grand final and Cameron Smith," Gallen said.
"Every time I've done a coin toss, every time against Cameron Smith - and he usually wins it most of the time - he always chooses to kick off.
"In the grand final he won the coin toss and I said, 'Well, we'll run that way'. And they (the referee) goes, 'But they (Melbourne) won the toss'. And I said, 'But he's going to choose to kick off'.
"Cameron didn't want to do that and he chose to run that way instead and we kicked off. And we won."
The simple ploy to throw Smith off his game clearly worked. The Sharks were crowned premiers after winning the decider 14-12.
Who knows, State of Origin history could have been forever changed if Gallen had also got his mindgames to work during the 2016 series.
During the coin toss ahead of the series opener, which Queensland went on to win 6-4, Gallen again acted perplexed when Smith won the toss after correctly calling "heads".
Smith asked if he had the right to call, and was given the green light.
When a young fan performed the coin toss with a less than convincing flip, both Smith and Gallen looked at each other and had a quick giggle.
Gallen then said: "We'll take it".
He began to say "We'll kick off," but was interrupted by Smith, who spoke over the top of him, saying "We'll kick off" himself.
"Oh what?" Gallen said, perplexed by why his counterpart was given first crack.
It seemed like it might have been Gallen playing a joke to begin with, but the video below shows he never broke out of character.
The referee then stepped in and assured him Smith had the right to decide whether to kick off or receive, with Gallen having the option of choosing what end to run to first.
CANBERRA LOSE CAPTAIN IN MASSIVE BLOW
CANBERRA have had their worst fears about Jarrod Croker confirmed, with the Raiders captain ruled out for the remainder of the NRL season.
Scans have revealed the star centre will need surgery after his left knee cap dislocated in the 38-12 victory over North Queensland on Saturday night. Croker is scheduled to have surgery next week in a bid to start training again by the end of the year.
Even before the severity of the injury was confirmed the club were bracing themselves for the worst.
His absence is a bitter blow as the Raiders aim to keep their finals hopes alive, sitting two games outside of the top eight.
Croker has been one of the most durable players in the NRL since making his debut in 2009, playing 230 games for the Raiders.
The fewest amount of games he had played in a season before this year was 21. Not only does Croker leave a centre and leadership hole, but he is the club's designated kicker.
Halfback Aidan Sezer filled the kicking void when Croker left the field after 30 minutes against the Cowboys and made five of six conversion attempts. "Losing your captain is like losing a limb really," Raiders forward Luke Bateman said.
"He's played over 200 games and everyone looks up to him." At 27, Croker is one of the older members of the Raiders squad and Bateman was sure to let him know about it.
"I was texting him yesterday and I said that's what happens when you're 45 and try to keep playing footy," Bateman joked.
Canberra have already been hard hit with the NRL suspending fullback Jack Wighton for the rest of the season after he pleaded guilty to assault charges. That's on top of being without forward Shannon Boyd (calf) and Joseph Tapine (suspension).
But the Raiders should get Wighton's replacement fullback Brad Abbey back for Friday night's clash with Cronulla after missing the win against the Cowboys due to concussion.
- with AAP