A terror on the field, and a terror in the seas. Paul Gallen. Absolutely unbelievable conduct.

We should explain that while the above headline is 100% accurate, it’s not *quite* what you might expect.

As it turns out, the good people of the Shire have been carefully monitoring the appearance of a curious danger in the form of a juvenile great white shark that several surfers have had close encounters with while in the waters at surf break Sandshoes.

Nicknaming the animal after the Cronulla Sharks captain makes it a little easier to keep tabs on things, but the near calls have definitely been a little too close for comfort.

Local surfer Matt Mulder relayed the tale of his encounter with the fishy Paul, detailing how the shark swam towards him before thrashing and turning away.

“He swam straight at us, and then at the last second, turned and started thrashing around.”

“It definitely got the heart going. It was better than a coffee, put it that way.”

There have been five sightings of a shark, thought to be the same juvenile great white, around Sandshoes in the past two weeks alone. Two sightings involved in-water encounters with surfers, one of whom was an 11-year-old boy.

Locals have taken to putting signs warning of shark encounters on poles near the break, and have alerted life guards at nearby patrolled beaches.

Recent heavy rain is thought to have attracted schools of fish to gather at the mouth of the Port Hacking estuary, which in turn would have attracted the shark to the area.

“The lifeguards seem to think it might be a juvenile great white, sort of a bit territorial, just hanging around.”

“It seems to be about the same time every morning, between sort of 7am and 8am it seems to pop up.”

“I told some mates who are game fisherman. They said if it’s a 20-centimetre fin, and it’s a baby great white or a bull shark, it’s probably around 2½ metres long. That’s big enough.”

Now why exactly locals named the shark Paul Gallen is up for debate.

Is it because of the fearless – often slightly foolish – leadership the fish is exhibiting as it patrols its new territory?

Or is it because it’s… y’know… a bit of a bastard?

Either way, Cronulla just got themselves an unwitting new mascot.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty.