Premiership won't tempt Parker to stop
He began the season by notching up his 300-game milestone in Round 1 but evergreen Broncos forward Corey Parker says a second premiership next Sunday in Sydney won't tempt him into retirement.
Playing some of the best football of his career, the 2015 Origin player of the series was at his industrious best against the Roosters on Friday night, running for 164 metres and delivering three offloads whilst reinforcing the middle third of the field with 32 tackles alongside Sam Thaiday and Adam Blair.
His right bicep that suffered nerve damage while playing against the Titans in Round 20 has been heavily bandaged ever since but Parker rejected any suggestion that at 33 years of age a Grand Final victory over the Cowboys in his 323rd game might be a fitting way to say farewell.
"I'm enjoying what I'm doing," Parker said in the sheds after the 31-12 Preliminary Final victory where he moved past David Furner to sit in third spot among point-scoring forwards in premiership history.
"I've always said I don't have an end date. I can't see the finish line just yet."
Having made his debut in 2001, Parker had to wait five years before he experienced a Broncos Grand Final appearance and has spent the past nine seasons wondering whether a second opportunity would ever present itself.
No one – including the man himself – could have predicted that the return to Brisbane of coach Wayne Bennett would witness such a dramatic turnaround from a team that fell into the finals last year.
Each game the likes of Ben Hunt, Anthony Milford, Jordan Kahu, Andrew McCullough, Mitchell Dodds and Jarrod Wallace have played over the past month has been bigger than they have experienced before and Parker will urge them to enjoy all that Grand Final week entails.
"This is a special time. Enjoy it for the moment," Parker said ahead of the all-Queensland decider.
"You've got to enjoy this and understand what it feels like but I can assure you it gets a lot better.
"It does get a lot better.
"As a group, we need to recognise that.
"We're off to a grand final. It's pretty special.
"They don't come around real often. It's a great time in your career.
"I'm really proud these guys will be able to experience what it's like to be part of a grand final."
Perhaps the first time all season Bennett looked in the post-match press conference like a man convinced that his men were destined to achieve something extraordinary.
He reiterated his statement from earlier in the week that the Round 24 loss to the Roosters was the defining moment of Brisbane's season as Parker reflected on a playing group that is thriving on good old-fashioned Aussie mateship.
"It's been an amazing journey from where we've come as a group to where we are now," Parker said.
"I'm most happy with the mateship – that willingness to turn up and not let your mate down.
"That's what we've built our team on throughout the year.
"At times we haven't been clinically correct or right but we've made up for it by turning up for each other.
"I was sitting there looking around [in the dressing sheds]; the boys are on top of the world.
"It gets better but you need to enjoy the week. It's a very special week in your career."