Broncos forward Sam Thaiday struggles with the South Sydney defence in last Thursday night's clash at ANZ Stadium. Credit: Col Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos
The look on his face in the 55th minute of last Thursday night's clash at ANZ Stadium suggested otherwise but Broncos back-rower Sam Thaiday has expressed sympathy for suspended South Sydney forward Ben Te'o, concerned he may have played his last game in the NRL.
Te'o on Monday accepted a four-match ban for a Grade 2 Dangerous Contact – Arm/Shoulder Pressure charge that will rule him out until the second week of the Finals Series, a 50 per cent loading for a prior similar offence extending his time on the sidelines.
Although the Rabbitohs would appear certainties to finish in the top four and guarantee themselves progression to at least Week Two of the finals, the likely return of captain John Sutton in the back row could place doubt over whether Te'o can force his way back into the team.
The form of Luke Keary and Adam Reynolds in the halves over the past fortnight would indicate that Sutton's days in the No.6 jersey are numbered but Thaiday said he would hate to see his Maroons teammate end his NRL career in such a way.
"I feel a little bit sorry for Benny. The anguish and the pain you saw on my face was me carrying that injury into the game anyway. I went in with an AC joint injury and I just think getting put in that position just aggravated it a bit," Thaiday said as he and Broncos co-captain Corey Parker helped to launch Bravehearts' White Balloon Day on September 12.
"I don't think there was any harm or malice intended. Benny and I are great mates and hopefully this isn't the end of his NRL career. He is going to be leaving us at the end of this season and going to play that other code but hopefully he's back on the field for Souths.
"I don't like to see anyone sitting on the sideline; my shoulder's fine, I'm going to be fine and I'll continue to play and hopefully Benny will be back on the park as well."
Three Rabbitohs players were charged with similar Dangerous Contact offences in their 42-16 win over the Broncos last week, all three occurring in a 12-minute period early in the second half.
It prompted reports that South Sydney are the worst offenders when it comes to wrestling-style manoeuvres but Thaiday insists that every team in the NRL is as guilty as each other in employing such tactics.
"It's a part of our game, you'll see those tackles in any game if you watch close enough and you'll see those wrestling tactics," said the 205-game veteran.
"If you ask any football player or any coaching staff and they say they don't do any wrestling, they're lying to you. Every team's doing it at the moment.
"It certainly feels uncomfortable. It's a combination of myself fighting against him and him fighting against me trying to win the play-the-ball and you get caught in those situations sometimes and it's never meant to harm or hurt anyone.
"It's the competitive nature coming out in both of us trying to make sure we win that play-the-ball for our teams."
While he conceded that his shoulder could use a week's rest, the desperate nature of the Broncos' plight will see Thaiday line up against the Knights on Saturday night but they will be without fullback Josh Hoffman.
Having originally been suspected of suffering a broken leg, scans later cleared Hoffman and he is a chance of returning from a high ankle sprain for the Round 26 clash with the Storm in Melbourne, a match that could very well decide Brisbane's finals fate.
Coach Anthony Griffin can simply shift Ben Barba back to fullback and look for a new No.6 or give Justin Hodges more room to move provided his hamstring injury could cope with the rigours of 80-minutes at the back.
"We had a bit of a thing going there; I think Hoffy back at fullback was really working out for us. I'm unsure what 'Hook' (Griffin) is going to do or go with now," Thaiday said.
"I've put my hand up for the No.1 position; great under the high ball, I'd love to charge off a kick return into a line of defence but I don't know if he'll go for that.
"He'll shuffle a few things around and play with a few things this week. We're lucky that we've got a long week, we don't play until Saturday, so we'll play with a few different positions and a few different players in those positions and I'm sure by Saturday we'll know and nail whoever is going to play in that fullback position."