Parker a 300-game Fantasy man
At last count 17,958 NRL Fantasy coaches have named Corey Parker in their team for Round 1 but on the verge of his 300th game for the Broncos Parker said he didn't always feel the love.
If the occasion of opening the season on home soil on Thursday night against the defending premiers in Wayne Bennett's return as head coach wasn't enough of an occasion, Parker's milestone is one for Broncos fans to treasure.
Preparing for his 15th season for the Broncos – he has played at least 17 games every year except his first in 2001 – Parker reflected on how the advent of NRL Fantasy competitions changed the nature in which fans viewed his contribution.
The hard workers in the middle of the ruck were often overlooked for the flashy men scoring all the points out wide, but Parker told NRL.com that when each tackle became worth a virtual point players such as himself started to get more of the credit.
"I think so, that's a fair point. When it first came about all it did was highlight some of the workers," said Parker, who will join Darren Lockyer as the only players to have played 300 games for the Broncos when he takes the field against South Sydney.
"It gave those players who may not receive much of the limelight a bit more of a talking point.
"I've had people along the way come up to me and all they want to know is whether I'm playing or not playing so they can put me in their Fantasy team or whatever it might be.
"Obviously being a kicker as well determines some results. I've had a couple of guys buy me a beer or two over the years for kicking a goal that might have got them a win. You hear all those sorts of stories."
Teammates such as Alex Glenn are in awe of not only Parker's longevity but the work ethic that sees him begin 2015 season in form as good as at any stage in his career.
No player classified as a second-row forward accumulated more Fantasy points than Parker in 2014 and Glenn says he and a few other Broncos are suspicious of how much notice the 32-year-old takes notice of what's happening in Fantasy land.
"He doesn't talk about it but we all reckon he goes home and has a look at how many points he had because he loves getting involved out on that field," Glenn said.
"Every time we see that we give him grief about it and say that it is for his NRL Fantasy points, just trying to maintain that high intensity game.
"They always say the older you get the harder body fights to back up the next day but 'Cozza' is playing the best footy of his career and it puts everything into perspective.
"It definitely inspires me the way that he trains. He is never short of 100 per cent with the effort he does and the passion that he has for this club and the team. That definitely inspires me and motivates me."
As for Parker the motivation and inspiration is derived from those sitting in the stands at Suncorp Stadium and around the NRL, whether he is in their Fantasy team or not.
As a young bloke growing up in Logan who idolised the Brisbane Broncos, Parker said that the greatest gift rugby league has given him is to simply associate himself with one of the game's most recognisable clubs.
"The fans are what you play for on the weekend," Parker said. "There's a lady by the name of Linda, she trains all the way in from Rosewood which is the last stop [on the Ipswich line] – I think it takes an hour and 10 [minutes].
"She trains in to Central Station, gets on a bus and comes just to watch us train. It's things like that that really make you step back and appreciate that people do love what we do and our brand and they like us. At the end of the day, that's what you are playing for.
"There's no better feeling than when you go to primary schools and you work with kids that might be in the middle of central Queensland somewhere and they know who you are.
"They know all about you for no other reason than the fact that they love the Broncos, as I did when I was that age. It's really nice to be recognised as a Bronco."
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