Paul Gallen Photo: Getty Images
So overwhelmed has Paul Gallen been by the response to Cronulla's maiden NRL premiership win, the Sharks skipper considered leaving the game on the ultimate high.
Gallen led the Sharks to their first ever grand final win over Melbourne three weeks ago and despite re-signing with the club the week before for one more year, he gave serious thought to calling it a day.
But as the Sharks premiership celebrations continued on Tuesday with a number of school visits, Gallen said he didn't want to leave the club in the lurch by retiring.
"There are times in my career I never thought this was going to happen," Gallen said.
"To finally do it at this club is a dream come true and it does mean a hell of a lot to me.
"And I thought about it, I thought about retirement. But it is a team game.
"We had a good senior leadership group with myself, Mick (Ennis) and Wade Graham.
"But Mick has retired and I didn't want to jump on his bandwagon. To leave Wade on his own I don't think it would be the right thing to do.
"To just up and leave no one there with him would not be the right thing to do."
Instead, Gallen will play on in 2017 for his 17th year of first grade football as he closes in on the 300-game milestone at age 36.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan and Paul Gallen receive keys to the Shire during Grand Final celebrations at Southern Cross Group Stadium Photo: Getty Images
Meanwhile The Shire is still celebrating the premiership win that was 40 years in the making.
"The boys have started to do their own thing, they are moving on but for the older people and the kids it is never ending for them, they just love it," Gallen said.
"It is a great feeling. I didn't expect it to be this big for this long.
"Two and a half weeks later people are still celebrating and it doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon
"It has been overwhelming. It has far exceeded my expectations. But they have been waiting for 50 years for this and we are happy to deliver it."
Gallen said his and Sharks coach Shane Flanagan's attention had already turned to scaling rugby league's Everest, winning back-to-back premierships.
"I was speaking to Flanno about that the other day," he said.
"I don't think it is going to be very hard to lift ourselves for that.
"Seeing all the fans like this, the motivation is there to do this all again.
"If I can get that message across to the other boys there is no reason why we can't have a successful year next year too."