Thaiday fireworks win Wayne over
Sam Thaiday's one-man mission to quell the influence of Roosters firebrand Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in Round 6 convinced coach Wayne Bennett that he deserved to play out his entire career at the Brisbane Broncos.
On the eve of the NRL Finals Series Thaiday penned a new three-year deal to remain at the Broncos until the end of the 2018 season when he will likely join club legends Darren Lockyer and Corey Parker as the only players to make 300 appearances for the club.
A deal has been imminent for a number of weeks with the finishing touches applied on Thursday in time for the Townsville product to face the Cowboys on Saturday night with a clear head and his future secured.
Ever since coming into first grade as an 18-year-old with the Broncos in 2003, Thaiday has been tasked with winning Bennett's approval and their relationship took another turn earlier this year when the 30-year-old was dropped to the bench in the wake of the team's Round 1 loss to the Rabbitohs.
But a month later he was promoted back to the front row to square off against Waerea-Hargreaves and the Roosters and delivered the type of inspirational performance that not only earned his team a 22-18 win in extra time but ultimately earned himself the chance to finish his career in Brisbane.
"When I came back there were a lot of question marks about a lot of things that I had to address," Bennett said of Thaiday's future.
"He came off the night we played the Roosters and that sealed the deal for me. I just thought Sam has done enough at this club to be a one-club man.
"It was our responsibility to get a deal done and make that happen.
"So I called Paul [White, Broncos CEO] the next day and said, 'We have to keep Sam' and we have done that."
With the rare occasions these days where a player can play their entire career at one club, Bennett said the retaining of Thaiday was not only a win for the player and the club, but also the fans.
"Fans love him, they love what he brings, and you don't want to disappoint the fans either by not having him here," said Bennett.
"He's a crowd favourite and we have always made sure we have a great relationship with our fans here.
"We've had a few long-term players here and Sam deserves to be one of those.
"Sometimes it doesn't happen, but we try to make it happen particularly if players are putting in, not resting on their 250-game laurels.
"At the same time I can't be blind when someone is not putting in. Then I have to be honest and tell them it is time to play somewhere else."