Parker stunned by Origin honour
Even in his moment of triumph his teammates had to make mention of his age but Corey Parker was almost lost for words as he proudly wore his Wally Lewis Medal as 2015 Holden State of Origin Man of the Series on Wednesday night.
The oldest player on the field – edging Justin Hodges by just 20 days – Parker was enormous in his 16th Origin match for Queensland, a Dick 'Tosser' Turner Medal for 20 Origins not beyond him in 2017 given his rich vein of form.
No forward on the field ran for more metres than Parker's 144, his 25 tackles were the equal most in the Queensland team and his four offloads and eight tackle busts made him more than a handful in attack.
In such a magnificently complete team performance it is often difficult to put one ahead of all others and Parker seemed stunned that he was the man to be singled out.
"It's quite emotional to be honest," Parker said in the wake of Queensland's stunning 52-6 victory.
"You have a look at the players that will go down in history in this side – Thurston, Inglis, Cronk, Slater, Smith – and for myself to get a Man of the Series and a Wally Lewis Medal is very special and something I'll cherish for a long time.
"It's pretty special individually not only for myself but for my family and everyone who has supported me along the way, it's something very special.
"You don't only have to do your job for yourself and your family and your friends, it's for this great state of Queensland.
"We were in Proserpine last week and you forgot sometimes that it's not only you that you're representing, it's everyone from the border up to the Cape [who] is affected by this so it is a sensational feeling and a really special moment."
As captain Cameron Smith was put under heavy media scrutiny during the week as a result of the 60 Minutes story on injured Knights forward Alex McKInnon, Parker was one of the players who stepped forward to share the load, coach Mal Meninga sensing that the additional responsibility was about to elicit a game to remember.
"We made mention in our celebrations of his age. We keep on pestering that age thing but he was extraordinary," Meninga said.
"You could sense through the week actually that he was in for a big one. His talk was excellent and a lot of the talk was around being smart and I thought we were really smart with the football.
"We tinkered with our attack and that came out of some honest conversations with some of the senior guys and 'Cozza' was part of that.
"He took ownership of that and he drove that as well and at the end of the day it worked for us."
Now 33 years of age, Parker has spoken of the torture of spending six years in the Origin wilderness after playing in two losing series in 2004 and 2005 and his determination to be a player his teammates can rely on.
"I just don't want to let people down, that's first and foremost," said Parker.
"When you pull on a jersey in something of this magnitude you don't want to let your teammates down and that's what I pride myself on."
And as his good mate Justin Hodges now enters the post-Origin period of his life, Parker spoke of why representing Queensland is such a difficult honour to walk away from.
"It's a very tough decision. He made a speech to the side last night that was a little emotional," said Parker.
"It's a jersey that you cherish and you don't just take it for granted. It's something that you earn and something that you hold in high esteem and to walk away from it is a decision from his point of view would not have been easy.
"But certainly doing it in the fashion that he's done tonight was a dream for him."