Bench demotion rejuvenates Thaiday
Kangaroos back-rower Sam Thaiday says a demotion to the bench at club level not only sparked him into form but freshened him up.
A recent form surge from Thaiday has helped his side move to the top of the NRL ladder after eight rounds, and he has also played himself into a starting spot for the Kangaroos for this Friday's Trans-Tasman Test against New Zealand.
Thaiday said the news he would be relegated to the bench hurt when it was delivered back in Round 2 but he had to "get over it pretty quickly" – adding the rest he got from missing the fiery opening stanzas of matches freshened him up.
"That was a role I had to play for the Broncos... The last couple of weeks I've started for the Broncos and great reward to be selected in the Australian team and to be in the run on team as well. It shows if you work hard on the field the rewards come," Thaiday said.
"I didn't want to walk around kicking tins, I just had to get over it and make sure I was doing a job and playing good footy for the Broncos. I think I've done that over the last few weeks."
Thaiday said when former premiership-winning coach Wayne Bennett returned to the club he wanted to change the culture and make sure everyone was accountable for their own job and the results of that are showing on the field.
He added that if he had missed Test selection as a result of his demotion it wouldn't have worried him.
"If I didn't play in this game I would have enjoyed a week off. It would have given me even more of a rest," he said.
"Starting off the bench gave me time to freshen up. It's such a hard period of the game, that first 10 to 15 minutes.
"Me coming off the bench gave me more opportunities in attack. It meant I didn't have to do all the hard stuff at the start of the game but still got through a lot of time and efforts on the field."
Thaiday, who has played plenty of prop in his career, finds himself in his preferred second-row role for Friday's game and it means rather than doing the hard yards in the middle he will assume the role of bodyguard for Kangaroos halfback Cooper Cronk.
The flipside of that role is hassling Kiwis playmakers Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson when the Aussies are defending to stop them from running amok.
"I'm kind of on the fringes on it now, I can go in there as much as I can but my job now is to try and hold shape and defend shape and make sure that blokes like Kieran Foran and Johnson don't carve us up too much.
"My job is also to try and protect Coops a little but there – I'm sure they'll send some big boys Coops's way and we've got two rookies on our right side [in centre Will Chambers and winger Josh Dugan] as well so I'm sure they'll send a lot of traffic our way."
Thaiday also nominated in-form prop Jesse Bromwich as the key man to stop.
"They've got some great players in Jesse Bromwich who I think is probably one of the best front-rowers going around at the moment. That's a big task for our front rowers to try and make sure they get the upper hand on those blokes."