PAUL Gallen once came close to luring Jason Taumalolo to Cronulla, but it was his pre-game sledge that spurred the Cowboys wrecking ball into tearing the Sharks title defence to shreds.
Gallen stirred the pot north of the border when he claimed the Cowboys were "crying poor" over the horrendous injury toll that almost tipped them out of the top eight.
After dumping the premiers out of the finals with a heart-stopping 15-14 extra time triumph, Taumalolo revealed that Gallen's sledge made his victory XXXX taste that little bit less like XXXX.
"That's Gal trying to get under our skin but it obviously didn't really get to the boys' heads," Taumalolo said.
"We just wanted to come out and play the brand of footy we could, and try and take Gal on in the middle of the field.
"It was a great battle and I think we were fortunate enough to get that win and make Gal eat his words a bit."
The Sharks skipper could not have done much more for his side - finishing with a gut busting 19 runs, 191 metres and 48 tackles.
But anything Gallen did, Taumalolo had that little bit more, with 242 metres, 30 tackles and eight busts, capped by a match-turning 63rd minute try where he carried half of Cronulla's pack across the line.
Twice in the past few years the Sharks have expressed interest in luring the Kiwi international south, with Gallen's endorsement of his club holding serious weight for Taumalolo.
As he tore Cronulla to shreds and bested the opponent he respects most, Taumalolo's heroics summed up North Queensland's campaign in many ways.
Simply finding a means when the critics only saw one ending. Anything but crying poor.