Captain Thaiday passes Broncos baton
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has given his biggest hint yet on who will captain Brisbane in 2016 but his skipper for this weekend's Downer NRL Auckland Nines insists it is now a young man's game.
Succeeding Darren Lockyer as club captain under Anthony Griffin in 2012-2013, Sam Thaiday was replaced by a co-captain structure consisting of Corey Parker and Justin Hodges in 2014 before Hodges was handed the honour in his final year at the club last season.
Bennett has been tight lipped on who the next skipper will be since the retirement of Hodges at the end of the 2015 season with Thaiday to fill the breach for a Nines team brimming with exciting youngsters and experienced representative stars.
The 30-year-old says he would be happy to assume the role full-time again in 2016, but believes the club should look to the younger generation for its next long-term leader.
"If it comes my way then I would be more than happy to take the role and the responsibility that comes with it," Thaiday said following a punishing testing session in temperatures pushing into the high 30s.
"Having Wayne as a head coach will certainly give me more support.
"For the time being I just want to get through these last few matches before the season starts.
"I definitely think the captain should be a younger guy that's going to be around our club for a long period of time; maybe a Darius Boyd or an Andrew McCullough.
"Both those guys are maturing as men and really settling down in their lives – I think that's only going to help their footy careers.
"They are both players that lead by their actions on the field."
The Downer NRL Auckland Nines loom as an opportunity for Thaiday to showcase not just his leadership, but also his skills with the football in hand.
Much of the hype around the competition revolves around the skills of the outside backs but Thaiday believes it is the forwards who can steal the show and warned that the Brisbane forwards have particularly been expanding their skills base.
"I've been practicing a fair bit in the pre-season," Thaiday said.
"I'm looking forward to it – it is something different. It's not your regular 80-minute game and you can have a lot of fun.
"It gives forwards a bit of a right to throw the ball around. There's no real technique in playing it.
"You just have to show a bit of effort in your attack and defence. First and foremost you have to enjoy it."
Brisbane is hoping that a blend of young and old will help them capture their first Auckland Nines title having finished runner-up to the Cowboys in the inaugural tournament in 2014.
Fans will get their first glimpse of young stars Carlin Anderson and Jai Arrow in the first-grade side as they look to make themselves permanent fixtures in an impressive Broncos line-up.
"We have a couple of young guys coming over with us and I'm looking forward to seeing those guys play," Thaiday said.
"Adam Blair and myself have been working on a few little plays that we can try and incorporate into our game.
"Having Darius Boyd and Andrew McCullough in the team is only going to help us.
"It's almost a bit of a reward for us to be able to go over there and play.
"The other boys are playing a pretty serious trial match up in Bundaberg so we'll make sure we enjoy the trip."