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Thaiday steps down with heavy heart

Tony Webeck, Chief Queensland Correspondent NRL.com Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - 1:00 PM

Sam Thaiday has stepped down as captain of the Brisbane Broncos. Copyright: NRL Photos

He joked that the Brisbane skies were crying for him but Sam Thaiday conceded that it was with a heavy heart that he has relinquished the Broncos captaincy effective immediately.

Thaiday will remain a member of the Broncos leadership group but Corey Parker and Justin Hodges will take over as co-captains for Brisbane in 2014.

While Thaiday endeavoured to take ownership of the decision to step down, it was evident from comments made by both Thaiday and Broncos coach Anthony Griffin that standing down as captain was a decision put to him by Griffin following his return from the World Cup in the United Kingdom.

"After a long season with the Broncos, representing my state and representing my country at the World Cup, I came home and had a couple of lengthy chats with the coach and the coach's thoughts were that it would be best for myself and the team... That I play my best football when I don't have the added responsibility of being the Broncos captain so it is with a very heavy heart that today I stand down as Broncos captain," Thaiday said.

"Myself always putting the team first, I think me stepping back and stepping down as Broncos captain is hopefully going to benefit our team in the future.

"When the job was up for grabs it was a job I really fought for and I think over the last two years I've done the job as best as I could.

"It was a decision that I fought for, I wanted to stay captain, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices to benefit the team."

Thaiday described his form for the Broncos over the past two seasons since he was made captain as "a bit Katy Perry, a little bit up-and-down", and Griffin hopes that by making such a tough decision he will get the best out of Thaiday as a footballer.

"My role is not always to tell people what they want to hear as well. By not addressing what I see a as coach I'm not helping or caring for the player if I do that," Griffin said.

"My main concern and the thing I want to care about is getting Sam to be the best possible player he can be, that's my role as coach.

"We've spoken about it and I just think Sam will be a more relaxed and consistent player without having to have that responsibility as captain as well and that's the main thing, that he's happy and plays his best football."

Thaiday was criticised for pulling on the shirt of referee Adam Devcich in a Round 4 against the Storm last season, an act for which he was subsequently suspended for one week.

It was perhaps an early indicator of the pressures associated with captaining such a proud club and the 189-game veteran conceded the Broncos' worst on-field performance in the cub's history last season had an influence.

"It is an added responsibility and it does play on your mind at times and our season last year not going so well also adds a bit of pressure," the 28-year-old said, who had wife Rachel and daughter Gracie present for moral support.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge now of getting back to playing the best football that Sam Thaiday can play.

"It's a hard decision that was made but I think it would have been a harder decision to brush it aside and go another year with me having those added responsibilities.

"I've got the weekend now to really relax and get my mind right to get back to training on Monday and I think once I'm back at training and back in that footballer's mentality a lot of that added responsibility will lift off my shoulders."