Broncos favourite hits game 250
Sam Thaiday admits he hasn't changed much in his 14 seasons as a Bronco and that's why he remains one of the most-loved players in the NRL.
The self-proclaimed 'fat 31-year-old' will celebrate his 250th NRL game when he runs out against the Melbourne Storm on Friday night, 14 years after arriving at the Broncos as a 'fat 17-year-old'.
Not one to take himself too seriously, Thaiday signalled out his body shape as something that has remained constant since arriving in Brisbane at the end of 2002, but beneath this humour is a love for the Broncos that has existed since his days growing up in Townsville – a place he moved to when he was just four years old.
Thaiday dreamt of playing for Brisbane as a young boy and that dream soon became a reality, with an impressive performance in an under-17s interstate game seeing him signed with the Broncos.
In 2003, at just 18 years of age, he made his NRL debut for Brisbane in their Round 18 clash with the Bulldogs.
Since then it has been representative selection after representative selection for Thaiday who has now played for the Queensland Maroons 28 times and the Australian Kangaroos 29 times.
It's been a decorated career for Thaiday and on Friday night he will be just the seventh Bronco in the club's history to reach the 250-game milestone – not a bad feat for someone who wanted to quit after a tough first day of pre-season training with Brisbane back in November 2002.
"I've been very lucky and privileged to play 250 games for the Broncos," Thaiday said.
"It's fantastic to celebrate the milestone on Friday night against the Storm and hopefully we can make it sweeter with a win.
"I never thought I'd be here. I wanted to go home after the first day of pre-season because it was so hard. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster but it's been an enjoyable rollercoaster."
Following Thaiday as a footballer has been more than enjoyable for fans of rugby league, with his personality and somewhat controversial remarks earning him a cult following.
It's this support that has made the hard work all worth it for 'Slammin Sam', and he is proud to be a one-club player at the Broncos.
A premiership winner with the side in 2006, Thaiday last year signed on with the club until the end of the 2018 season.
Although he has no current plans to retire at the end of that contract, Thaiday said that when the time does come to hang up the boots, he'll be happy to do so as a one-club man.
"The boys in the side make you want to come back every year. I've made a lot of friends because of this career and they are friends for life," he said.
"Our fans and members have been fantastic to me as well. It's a game that I grew up playing and now I'm fortunate enough to do what I love for a living.
"I'm proud to be a one-club player. There have been plenty of opportunities throughout my career to go and play somewhere else.
"But the Broncos were my team as a kid growing up and I now wear their jersey proudly. I'll be happy and proud to retire here as a one-team man."
Coach Wayne Bennett was the man at the Broncos who first spotted Thaiday as a teenager, and the master coach has watched his now good friend develop into a talented footballer.
Bennett has coached Thaiday for nine seasons at Brisbane, and although the relationship between the two hasn't always been plain sailing, Bennett said he has always loved having Thaiday in his side.
"Sam came here as a kid when I was here initially. We've had a tough road together," Bennett said.
"I had to come down hard on him a few times as a young guy and he needed that.
"He's a much-valued player on our team now. He's done the hard yards and he's played a lot of tough footy.
"I love what he brings when he's on. He's been on for us in the past month or so. He's been in really good form."