Parker prepares for emotional farewell
Retiring Brisbane skipper Corey Parker admits he is starting to feel emotional about the prospect of playing his last regular season home game for the Broncos on Thursday night.
Brisbane will play the Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium and they must win to keep their top four hopes alive.
A loss could see Wayne Bennett's men finish the round and the regular season as low as seventh, depriving them of a home final.
It means that there is a real chance that Thursday night's blockbuster will be Parker's last at Suncorp Stadium and the Broncos are doing all they can to send their inspirational skipper off in style.
10,000 free Parker silver hair headbands will be given away and the club will also allow the expected 40,000 strong crowd to enter the field post-match for Parker's official farewell.
It's set to be a momentous occasion and a celebration of Parker's career, but the 34-year-old said he will still be sad come Thursday night as he runs out onto Suncorp Stadium for what could possibly be the last time.
"It's sort of crept up rather quickly," Parker said.
"There are a few emotions going through my head at the moment, but obviously I knew the day was going to come. It should be a good night come Thursday.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sad that it's coming to an end, but I'm also excited about what the future brings.
"All that aside, we have a big job ahead of us on Thursday night and it will be a huge challenge. That's what I'll be looking forward to once I get past the emotions."
The Roosters will be a big test for the Broncos after the Tricolours ran out 32-16 winners when the two sides met just over a month ago.
That result was the turning point of Brisbane's season, with the side having not lost since that clash – winning four in a row.
It's a well-timed run to the finals that Broncos fans are hoping will see their side enter the post-season with momentum on their side.
But Parker isn't getting ahead of himself, with the Australian international instead focused on getting the win come Thursday's farewell match.
"I have no regrets. I'm very happy with my decision to retire," he said.
"It's all I've done for 16 years. Football has been my professional life. It's very different to think that next year I won't be doing that.
"I've really enjoyed what this year has brought and I'm looking forward to what the future holds.
"It's a big challenge on Thursday so hopefully we can rise to the occasion."
Good friend and long-term teammate Darius Boyd believes his side will lift for Parker on Thursday night.
The two have played for the Broncos, Queensland and Australia together, and Boyd wants to send Parker out a winner.
"It hasn't been mentioned but deep down I think everyone knows that it is his last game at Suncorp in the regular season," Boyd said.
"Corey has been such a great player for this club so we all want to send him out the way he deserves.
"In saying that, we need to prepare well and focus on the game at hand. The rest will then take care of itself."
Hooker Andrew McCullough failed to train on Monday, instead icing a rolled ankle from Friday's win over the Melbourne Storm.
Despite concerns, teammates say McCullough's absence is precautionary, with all expecting him to be fit to play come Thursday night.