The fierce trans-Tasman rivalry will extend to the boxing ring when Sydney NRL forward Paul Gallen takes on Warriors backrower Bodene Thompson.
The pair are on the Super 8 undercard in Auckland next Tuesday night, with Cronulla skipper Gallen looking to extend his 3-0 pro record, which includes two wins inside the distance.
Gallen, 34, has been sparring with southpaws in preparation for the left-handed Thompson.
“The southpaws I’ve sparred have probably boxed a lot more,” the NSW State of Origin captain said.
“Me and Bodene are probably going to stand there and fight each other. He’s going to be fit. He’s very aggressive. I’ve got no doubt he’ll be ready for it.”
Before his pro debut in early 2014, Gallen had two Fight for Life charity bouts in Auckland, beating All Blacks Hika Elliot and Liam Messam in successive years.
Thompson, who will be making his professional boxing debut, says he will rely on instinct rather than a game plan or big weapon for the four three-minute rounds contest.
“I just fight off instinct,” he said on Thursday.
“There will be times when I have to stick in tight and there will be times I might have to go out. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Tauranga-born Thompson, who has just completed his first season with the Warriors after spells with West Tigers and Gold Coast, said he was feeling sharp after more than three weeks of boxing training.
He has been in the ring once before, when he won a charity bout on the Gold Coast four years ago.
Thompson has added motivation to beat Gallen.
“I still owe him one, because I remember a couple of years ago, he got a try on me when he dummied me from dummy half. It’s still on my back.”