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Sydney journalist Dave Riccio has taken on plenty of big assignments during his career but arguably his greatest challenge was trying to grab time with Paul Gallen as he attempted to write the Cronulla star’s life story.
It wasn’t that Gallen wasn’t invested in the book project – quite the opposite – but Riccio soon found out that nothing came between the champion footballer turned boxer and his training routine and preparation.
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Every meal, every drink, every training session and every minute’s rest was meticulously planned and carried out.
Gallen doesn’t know the meaning of the words ‘short cut’.
At an age where most blokes are smashing schooners to celebrate birthdays, Gal marked his 40th in August by running the Wanda sand hills 40 times.
"Everything about the book was done around a recovery session or an extra session or Cronulla training," Riccio, author of Paul Gallen: Heart and Soul, told Yahoo Australia.
"I'd have to get him really early in the morning or late in the arvo because there'd be no time in the day due to his training.
"He's the only player in Cronulla's history with keys to the front gate because he'd be there 'til 7 o'clock at night in an ice bath or doing extras.
Gallen still carries a lunchbox packed with nuts and fruit everywhere he goes, eschewing the free sausage rolls, pies and pizza on offer at the various media outlets he frequents.
He approaches alcohol like it's poison.
"He's a pretty boring dude. I've told him that," Riccio laughed.
"You invite him out and he will sit on the waters.
"It's all training, training, training. With Gal, it's full throttle or nothing.
"He is absolutely relentless."
Paul Gallen to face Josh Aloiai in boxing bout
This is the cyborg Manly prop Josh Aloiai will face in Newcastle on December 10, the latest in a list of footballers to climb through the ropes in search of a Gallen-led payday.
The former Shark has already seen off 12 opponents and withstood a hiding in his TKO loss to Australian heavyweight champion Justis Huni in June, but that hasn’t stopped the Sea Eagles enforcer from wanting a piece of the action.
The difference, according to Aloiai, is he comes from boxing stock and is no stranger to the hardest sporting trade of them all.
He’s taken - and dished out - punishment from a young age and won’t hear of defeat.
"There is no losing the fight for us. We don’t think that and we don’t talk about that," Aloiai declared.
"I'll be in there to knock his head off.
"There is no plan B."
Aloiai might just need an alternate plan by the time Gallen has finished with him.
There is no destroying a cyborg.
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