Parker emotional about retirement
An emotional Corey Parker says he wanted to farewell the game of rugby league on his terms, with the 34-year-old holding back tears at a press conference in Brisbane on Monday.
The Broncos' captain will retire at the end of the 2016 NRL season, with his illustrious career including 17 games for Queensland, 13 for Australia and 336 for Brisbane.
These totals are set to rise, with Parker ready to take on the Blues in Game Two of Holden State of Origin in what will most likely be his second last game in Maroon.
Wednesday night will now be Parker's representative farewell at his home ground, adding to Queensland's motivation to claim their 10th Origin series win in 11 years.
Parker says he is very fortunate to have had such a long career, and the Brisbane lock was quick to thank those that have helped him get to where he is.
"I feel very fortunate to come here as a young kid at 17 and fulfil a dream of playing for a club that I love. To still be able to sit here in club colours 16 years later is something I am very proud of," Parker said.
"This day was always going to come and I class myself as a very fortunate person in terms of my career. These 16 years wouldn't have been possible without my family's support and for that I say thank you.
"The game of rugby league has given me so much over the years. I have countless memories, friendships and fans from it. I've taken off the game for so long and I now look forward to giving back to the game that I love so much."
A player of Parker's esteem deserves to retire on his own terms and that is what the Broncos' all-time leading point scorer has been able to do.
A one-club player, Parker says he feared that if he did play on, he might have let his teammates down in the long run.
"It's important for me that I can walk away from the game that I love on my terms," he said.
"One of my biggest motivating factors when I go into a game of rugby league is to never let my mates down.
"I didn't ever want to get to a point where my mates were looking sideways at me thinking I was past it."
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett was at the club when Parker arrived in 2001 and he has seen Parker evolve as a person and a footballer.
A once balding teenager has matured like a fine wine, with his best years coming late in his career.
In 2013 Corey Parker was awarded International Lock of the Year and Dally M Lock of the Year.
Just last year Parker was named the Broncos' 2015 Player of the Year and Bennett says he is not only proud of what Parker has achieved on the field, but also the man Parker has become off it.
"I'm very pleased for him because he's been able to be honest with himself and make this decision. It's a difficult decision because a part of him still wants to play," Bennett said.
"He's always played with such pride and we were happy to take him next year, but he leaves on his terms and that's important. He doesn't want to lose control of his own destiny.
"I made him captain this year when I wouldn't have made him captain four or five years ago. He was ready for it now because he's matured so much. He's done a great job as captain this year."
The retirement of Justin Hodges helped inspire Brisbane to a grand final appearance in 2015, with the Broncos falling just short of the perfect farewell for their star centre.
Bennett says Brisbane will be looking to go one better in 2016 and give Parker the send-off he deserves.
"His retirement will become a factor later in the year," he said.
"I'm not sure if the whole squad would have played for him three of four years ago but they all play for him now."