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