NSW Origin stalwart Paul Gallen feels his boxing opponent Junior Paulo has what it takes to play for the Blues.
Former NSW captain Paul Gallen would love to see his next boxing opponent Junior Paulo in a Blues State of Origin jersey next year.
The two NRL stars clash in a charity bout in Sydney on Friday, just a couple of days after Canberra forward Paulo was named in an emerging Blues squad.
Gallen, who exited the Origin arena after the 2016 series, revealed he tried to persuade Sharks coach Shane Flanagan to get Paulo from strife-torn Parramatta, though the player ultimately opted to join the Raiders mid-season.
Asked if Paulo was someone he'd like to see play for the Blues, Gallen said "100 per cent."
"I remember when the Parramatta stuff went down and I spoke to 'Flanno' and said 'mate, get this bloke to our club," Gallen said.
"I think he's a fantastic rugby league player and I'd love to see him play for NSW and I think can. He's got the ability to do it, there's no doubt about that."
News of his elevation to the emerging Blues squad came as a shock to 23 year-old Paulo.
"Yesterday I was talking to Nathan Peats who is a good friend of mine and I was saying congrats to him," Paulo said.
"Then I finally read the list and saw my name on there, so it was a big surprise to me.
"But I'm happy to be a part of that squad. That's definitely something I've built towards."
Gallen stated his support for teammate Ben Barba, who has returned to Sydney after spending a month in a Thai rehabilitation centre.
He faces a 12-match suspension should he choose to return to the NRL following his positive cocaine test last month.
"I support Benny as an individual. I'd love to see him come back to league, but the best thing at the moment is to sort his life out," Gallen said.
"Sometimes football has got to take a back seat and hopefully this is the case and he picks himself up."
Gallen made it clear his appetite for success hadn't been diminished by the Sharks' first premiership.
"Those two weeks leading to the grand final, the major semi and the grand final were some of the best weeks of my life and I want that feeling again," said Gallen, who will finish up at the end of the next NRL season.
By Adrian Warren, AAP