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Corey Parker had to wait six years after the 2005 Origin Series to be given the chance to play for Queensland again.
Due to modern-day pressures brought on by salary cap restrictions, it becomes increasingly difficult for rugby league clubs to retain talented players within the same side over the long term.

The advent of third party deals, sponsorship agreements, match payments and incentives has helped soften the blow to ensure that the elusive 'one-club player' doesn't become extinct as the seasons roll by.

One such one-club man is Broncos and Maroons back rower Corey Parker, who has made many a sacrifice over the years to ensure he can pull the Brisbane jersey on week in, week out. 

However, when it comes to a sacred Queensland jumper, Parker knows more than anyone how important it is to make the most of any representative opportunities that become available after having to sit through six years on the State of Origin sidelines after first making his debut in 2004.

It wasn't until Parker's fourth season in the NRL that he received an Origin call-up. It was Game Two of the 2004 Series when the then 22-year-old made his debut at Suncorp Stadium. The Blues had snatched the opening game of the Series 9-8 after a clutch field goal by Shaun Timmins sealed a pulsating match where Queensland had actually outscored NSW by two tries to one.

Cue Game Two, where the Maroons levelled the Series with a 22-18 victory that included two tries from a winger by the name of Billy Slater, one of which was the four-pointer that saw Slater latch onto a Darren Lockyer grubber kick in centre field, sprint towards Blues' fullback Anthony Minichiello and kick the Steeden over his head, regathering the ball to score one of the classic Origin tries.

Parker was retained for the decider at Stadium Australia, although on that occasion New South Wales were too strong, running out 36-14 winners and leaving the Maroons to scratch their heads and wonder when their next Series victory would come from.

That was 2004 and Parker would go on to play one more match for Queensland – Game 3 of 2005 – where the Maroons suffered a 32-10 defeat and a third straight Series had slipped through their fingers.

Parker wouldn't play another game for Queensland until Game One of 2011.

As they say in the classics – the rest is history. The Maroons haven't lost a Series since 2005, but while Parker enjoyed the success of the Broncos' 2006 premiership, an unquenchable desire still remained to one day represent his state again after watching his former Origin teammates revel in five straight Series wins.

Parker finally received his second chance as a 29-year-old, called up to the Maroons squad for the opener of the 2011 Series and he hasn't looked back since, playing in every game apart from the 2012 decider.

"In '04 and '05 when I played and we were beaten by NSW I spent six years on the sideline and the passion and the desire and willingness to want to wear that jersey again had never left me," said Parker, who will play his 12th Origin match on Wednesday night.

"Looking back in hindsight, to have sat there for six years with a burning desire to get back in the jersey, when I got the opportunity to represent Queensland again I really respected that. And from that opportunity I'd like to think that I'll keep doing that.

"[Back] in '04, '05 I probably didn't respect it or understand it to the degree that it deserved and through circumstance... Six years is a long time to watch your mates run around enjoying playing for Queensland, so it's been a good journey."

Parker, now 32, was at risk of having this year's Origin journey thrown off course due to his heavily pregnant wife Margaux expecting the impending birth of their third child. Although much like the precise timing of his father's offloads, Jagger Steele Parker arrived into the world on Sunday, just over 24 hours before the Maroons settled into camp.

"He would've been out well before then (May 28)," Parker said. "He was seven days late as it was so if he was going to wait until next Wednesday he would've been well and truly ready.

"He was due against the Cowboys and that didn't happen and we sort of tried to make sure that if he was going to be late he came out before we came into Origin camp. It worked out really well.

"He was a big boy, 9lb 8oz, so if we gave him an extra 10 days he could've been anything."

With Parker already the proud dad to a boy and a girl, little Jagger will undoubtedly be decked out in a baby-sized Maroons jersey come next Wednesday.

"He's got the hand-me-downs – I'll get his brother a new kit and he can wear the older stuff," he said. 

"I don't think he'll remember it but he'll certainly be able to see some photos in years to come."

Parker became a parent for the first time in 2010 which was something that offered the 287-game veteran a new-found sense of responsibility and maturity which was recognised by his club side earlier this year when he was named co-captain of the Broncos alongside Origin teammate Justin Hodges.

Having taken to his new leadership role with the Broncos like a duck to water, Parker has joined the likes of Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston to become part of a select group of club captains inside the Maroons team.

Surprisingly, those three players are the only survivors from the Queensland side that lost Game Three and the Series in 2005, which offers those within the squad who haven't tasted defeat a welcome reality check and a reminder of what Origin means to a Queenslander.
"There are a few of us more mature players [who remember what it's like to lose] and it does hurt," he said.

"Not only are you representing each other and your families it's the entire state – four million people that are involved in Queensland that have an expectation – and doing what we do for a living, that's where you want to be."

Additional reporting by Tony Webeck.
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