Co-captains Corey Parker and Justin Hodges have committed themselves to the Broncos until at least the end of the 2016 season. Credit: Col Whelan Copyright: NRL Photos
Corey Parker and Justin Hodges have set the benchmark of bringing another Telstra Premiership back north of the border after today inking two-year contract extensions with the club, keeping them at Red Hill until the end of the 2016 season.
Brisbane's co-captains now have the opportunity to finish their careers where it all began for them on the same day in 1999, when Parker, Hodges and former Bronco Brent Tate signed their first NRL contracts with the club, with all three going on to achieve every possible accolade available in the game.
After first signing for the club 15 years ago, Hodges and Parker have witnessed two Broncos' grand final victories. While only playing in the 2006 decider, both co-captains genuinely believe their side has an ideal opportunity to add to a brimming trophy cabinet, which has lacked any new additions of silverware since their 15-8 Grand Final triumph over the Storm.
After being asked whether another premiership was a feasible goal, both captains gave clear indications that another grand final victory was a big motivator to keep playing for the Broncos.
"Yeah definitely – that's why we are still here. The reason that keeps me here is to win another premiership. It's been eight years (2006) since our last one so it's been a long time between," Hodges said.
"Hopefully before Corey and I hang up the boots we'd like to get at least another one or two [premierships]. We've got the 'cattle' to do it it's just a matter of getting a bit of luck along the way."
Parker agreed with his co-captain: "We were lucky enough in 2006 to reach [a premiership]. The feeling and satisfaction you get when you win a competition keeps you playing and that feeling [for me] is still there," he said.
"As 'Hodgo' said, I think we do have the cattle here to achieve that but there are a few things we need to do right for that to happen.
"It's certainly on our 'to-do' list and we'll be striving for that as long as we're playing.
Since debuting as a fresh-faced, shaven-headed 19-year-old in 2001, Parker has gone on to play 284 NRL games for the club and his new deal will almost certainly see him finish his career at the Broncos. It will also put him within reach of Darren Lockyer's record of 355 games if he decides to continue on after the 2016 season.
"If I look back from day one when I first signed – it was only a dream. To still be living that dream is very special to myself and furthering from that, the opportunity to play [almost] 300 games for one club sits pretty dear to me," he said.
"When I was a little boy all I ever wanted to do was to play for the Broncos and to be given that opportunity and to be fortunate enough to have now done that is something very special.
"There have been a lot of great names here at this club and I don't think I’d be the person I am [today] if I hadn't come to this club and met the people I have.
"The decision for myself was very easy so it was more of a case whether or not the club wanted to keep me."
For Hodges, who debuted on the wing for the Broncos as a 17-year-old against Canberra in Round 14, 2000 before switching allegiances to the Roosters two seasons later, today's contract extension was something on the mind of the now 31-year-old.
"Corey's been here since day one and I had three years away but I've been back for almost 10 years now," Hodges said.
"It's a place where I always thought I'd finish my career and I'm very thankful [along with] 'Cozza' towards the club for showing the faith and signing us up for two more years and hopefully finishing our careers here [at a place] we love."
Broncos chief executive Paul White reiterated the importance of having two high-profile players recommit to the club and the stability that these contract extensions will bring.
"These deals offer a commitment to these two who have shown they want to play out their careers in Broncos jerseys," said White.
"This offers some certainty for the players, but also for our members and supporters who now know our captains will finish their days as rugby league players here in our colours.
"These two are great examples of how players can develop not only on the field but as people in general when they become part of the Broncos' club."