GI will know when it's time to retire: Gagai
If anyone thinks Greg Inglis could be heading into his last State of Origin campaign - due to age and injury concerns - his Queensland and South Sydney teammate Dane Gagai says "think again".
''Coming up against him in opposed sessions and stuff, he could keep going and keep dominating,'' Gagai said of his 31-year-old teammate, who has overcome two serious knee injuries in the past three years.
But Gagai, who has played four of his seven Maroons games with Inglis, says no-one should be telling an experienced player like the Rabbitohs captain when to pull the pin.
''It's completely up to him … I haven't given it that much thought,'' Gagai said.
''He'll know when it's time. But he showed last week he's still a dangerous threat.''
Gagai was referring to Inglis leaping into the Allianz Stadium night air, over the heads of James Tedesco and Blake Ferguson, to collect a Cody Walker kick and score in the 26-14 win over the Sydney Roosters.
''He's always been confident but you can see he's now tapping into that again as it's a massive injury to come back from," Gagai said of Inglis' 2017 knee reconstruction.
''For him to do the things he did last week, it's all credit to him for putting in the hard work.
''I'd come in at six o'clock and he's finishing his session in the morning before we even start, doing all his rehab,'' Gagai said.
''What Greg has been able to do in the off-season to get himself back is unbelievable. It's so much fun playing alongside him - not so much against him - and fortunately I don't have to do that any more.''
Also inspiring is Inglis calling out racial abuse directed at him in the round two game against Penrith. The NRL and both clubs stepped in quickly and identified the culprits, who have been banned from matches indefinitely.
''It shows how strong he - it's not weak to speak,'' Gagai said.
''For someone like him to come out, not just for us as players, but for people who might be struggling it's an inspiration for everybody. I take my hat off to him.''
Gagai said he had never been directly abused because of his skin colour, but was subjected to taunts after Cronulla beat his old club Newcastle 62-0 in May 2016. Gagai was in tears after the game but it was later revealed there had been a family tragedy that day.
''People tend to forget we have lives outside of football and my grandmother had passed away the morning that we played,'' he said.
''Some racial stuff came out in the crowd but that didn't bother me at that point as I had bigger things to deal with.
''There will also be banter and heckling from crowds. I'm all for people supporting their teams but remember there's children at these games too. There's definitely a line you don't cross.
''We (players) are really strong with RLPA and we've got people we can speak to there, and leaders among our own teams. So if there is an issue there's a way to direct your concerns.''
Now Souths are directing their attention to building off the momentum created from three wins from the past four games after starting the season with two straight losses.
Canberra is up next at Gosford's Central Coast Stadium on Saturday.
''We're starting to get a better feel for each other and getting those combinations right, our timing off each other,'' Gagai said.
''You have to keep improving or you get left behind in this competition.''