Wise Parker adds spark to Qld bench
Broncos stalwart Corey Parker has played over 200 games for Brisbane, won a premiership and is the man most likely to replace Darren Lockyer as skipper next season ... but unlike most of his Queensland teammates, he is yet to play in a winning Origin series for the Maroons.
The 29-year-old earned a recall for Game I last month after a six-year absence from Origin football, during which time he "never gave up hope" of playing for Queensland again.
With the Maroons having won the past five successive Origin series (2006-2010), Parker has not played in a winning Origin series, playing in Game III of both the 2004 and 2005 series won by NSW.
He hopes to change that this Wednesday when the Maroons attempt to extend their record winning streak to six series in Lockyer's last Sydney Origin appearance at a packed ANZ Stadium.
Parker said he plans to "go hell for leather" when injected into the game off the bench, which is a different role than he is accustomed to at the Broncos.
"I usually start and play for 80 minutes," he said. "In game one of Origin I, coming off the bench and playing for 20 minutes, I had to hit the ground running.
"Being older and wiser I am happy to play my role, sit back and just go hell for leather when I get out there."
Parker said he never gave up hope of getting a second chance at Origin.
"It's a good lesson for most people to never give up on their dreams," he said.
Parker said it had been easy to slot into the Maroons team, which featured only two other newcomers from previous seasons with Game I rookies Jharal Yow Yeh and Dane Neilsen.
"There was a comfort factor there as the team has been together such a long time," he said. "To be honest, I'm the new guy in the team. Everyone knows what's happening and what's going on ... it makes the job easier."
As for NSW, Parker expects his usual Sharks opposite, Blues capatin Paul Gallen, who has been switched from lock to prop for Game II, to be equally "dangerous".
"Whether he has the number 8, 10 or 13 on his back, the job is pretty much the same," Parker said. "Gallen is a danger player, no matter what position he's playing. He might just get the ball a lot more."
While Parker will play his fifth Origin game on Wednesday, Lockyer will play his 35th, making him the most capped player in Origin history.
Parker said there had been little talk of Lockyer's record and retirement this season in the Maroons camp because "that's the sort of humble guy he is and he wouldn't want it".
"Since he announced his retirement at the start of the year, everyone has wanted the opportunity to play with or against him one last time," Parker said.
"I am lucky I get to play with him week in, week out."
Parker said Storm hooker Cameron Smith was the most likely and deserving player to replace Lockyer as Queensland captain next year.
"He is a very calm, cool character; not too much fazes him," he said.
As for the Broncos' captaincy, Parker, who made his first grade debut with the Broncos in 2001, is contracted to the club until 2014 and is considered a likely replacement for Lockyer as Brisbane skipper next year.
Parker said it had not been discussed, but there is no doubt he would cherish the honour.
"The Broncos is the only club I have ever palyed for; I hold the club close to my heart," he said. "I have done it in Darren's absence. No one has been specifically groomed for the role but I am in the senior player group."