Loy­alty per­son­i­fied

Corey Parker never wanted to play for any­one but the Bron­cos. Mis­sion ac­com­plished

Rugby League Week - - News - BY JOEL GOULD

WHEN COREY PARKER started his ca­reer at the Bron­cos in the early 2000s, there was no easy path to a start­ing po­si­tion.

The back-row­ers at the club in­cluded Brad Mey­ers, Carl Webb, Tonie Car­roll, Dane Car­law, Ash­ley Har­ri­son and some bloke named Gor­den Tal­lis.

“It was a chal­lenge,” says Parker, in one of the un­der­state­ments of the year.

“Those guys you men­tioned all played Ori­gin at a young age as well, so train­ing and play­ing at the Bron­cos was very com­pet­i­tive.

“But that was a good thing be­cause it al­ways kept me want­ing to strive and be bet­ter than those guys. I al­ways had some­one to bench­mark my­self against.”

Parker could’ve taken the easy op­tion, thrown up his hands and left the club to find a reg­u­lar start­ing spot. But that’s never been his go.

Ex­tra­or­di­nary as it may seem, it took him un­til 2009 to play a full sea­son as a start­ing player.

“I had some op­por­tu­ni­ties to go to Can­ter­bury and Mel­bourne but at the time I only had 10 games to my name,” he says.

“Can­ter­bury of­fered me $150,000, $160,000 and $170,000 over three years and Mel­bourne $160,000, $170,000 and $180,000 over three. But I stayed at Bris­bane for $80,000 . . . all I’d ever wanted to do was play for Bris­bane.

“I thought to my­self, ‘I’m do­ing that now and if I’m ever able to make it at the Bron­cos, I’ll make it any­where’.

“Look­ing back, I don’t know what the jour­ney would’ve looked like if I’d gone to another place. At Bris­bane I’ve been able to play for Queens­land, Aus­tralia and win a comp.”

That 2006 pre­mier­ship re­mains a club high­light.

“We had a 10-year re­union the other day and I can re­mem­ber that grand fi­nal like it was yes­ter­day,” Parker says.

“Those mem­o­ries will stay for­ever with me . . . The Bron­cos have been a very suc­cess­ful club and pro­duced stars, but it’s a decade since we won a comp, and that shows how spe­cial they are.”

Parker has a bi­og­ra­phy com­ing out shortly, which he says has “forced me to stop and re­flect on my life and my footy ca­reer in-depth. Too of­ten we skip by things and get caught up in the here and now.

“It’s a pro­fes­sional sport and you get paid to do it but I never wanted to be one of those guys who went from club to club for money . . . I’m proud that I’ve played my en­tire ca­reer at one club.”

In his fi­nal sea­son Parker is go­ing out as an es­tab­lished Ma­roons Ori­gin star, while Kan­ga­roos coach Mal Meninga has told him he in­tends to se­lect him for the Four Na­tions next month.

“I’m ex­tremely proud I’ve been able to fin­ish on my terms,” Parker says.

“I know that sounds some­what self­ish, but a lot of times in pro­fes­sional sport that’s not the case.

“Yes, I’ve really en­joyed my time. It’s been a hell of a ride. I’ve played at the top of the game and done ev­ery­thing.

“And now I’m leav­ing at the top. Fin­gers crossed, that’s in the green and gold in a month’s time. There would be no bet­ter way to fin­ish.”

‘I thought if I make it at the Bron­cos, I’ll make it any­where’

EN­CORE, PLEASE! Corey Parker has played his last game for the Bron­cos but he still has some un­fin­ished busi­ness with the Kan­ga­roos in the Four Na­tions.

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