Thaiday to skip flash of Nines for fitness
You only need to catch a glimpse at the Budgy Smugglers he so readily displays to know that Sam Thaiday is not afraid of some flair but the Broncos back-rower says he will skip this year's Downer NRL Auckland Nines extravaganza in order to focus on his fitness.
Even as the words came out of his mouth Thaiday recognised the irony in what he was saying but having only returned to pre-season training last Wednesday after a 2016 in which he played 30 games, the 31-year-old is conscious of what his body will endure in 2017.
If he maintains his position in the Queensland and Australian representative teams Thaiday could play as many as 37 games if his Broncos make it all the way to the grand final and the Kangaroos feature in the World Cup Final at Suncorp Stadium on December 2.
With the Auckland Nines now only three weeks away and a World Club Series clash with Warrington in England two weeks prior to the start of the 2017 Telstra Premiership, Thaiday believes he and the Broncos will be best served in the long term if he was to stay at home rather than make the trip to New Zealand.
"I'll skip the Nines; too flashy for me. I might come back as a retired player one day," said Thaiday, who captained the Broncos in last year's tournament and also played in the inaugural tournament in 2014.
"To be honest, I think the conversation I'm going to have with Wayne [Bennett, Broncos coach] is that I probably don't want to play overly too much footy.
"I'd much prefer to put the hard yards in out there on the training paddock.
"I know that those words don't usually come out of my mouth but I'd much prefer to do a couple of extra weeks of fitness and get fit so in Round 1 I'm fighting fit and ready to go."
Thaiday's 2016 season was brought to an uncomfortable end when he suffered a fractured eye socket in the Four Nations tournament against England, an injury he now says helped him to mentally and physically refresh for the season ahead.
"Having the eye socket injury was a blessing in disguise," Thaiday said. "It actually made me stop.
"I couldn't do overly too much for four weeks so it gave a chance for the body to rest and heal and recover and I was pretty pumped to get back to training and back out there with the boys.
"It was pretty nasty when it happened but all good now. I copped an accidental bump the other day when we were doing a bit of stuff and pulled up all right after training.
"I'll just keep on testing myself as much as I can and try and get my head right and make sure that I'm backing myself and backing my ability once I get back out there playing footy again.
"If we were in season I'd be back playing footy at the moment. I've got that in the back of my mind so I'm doing as much as I can out there on the field."
Entering his 15th season with the Broncos Thaiday has tasted premiership success just the once in 2006 but having run his eye over the youngsters graduating to the top grade and new recruits to the club is pleased with the balance that the 2017 squad possesses.
"I really do actually, and I like some of the picks that we've got out there too," Thaiday said of the balance of youth and experience so often credited in premiership winners.
"David Mead has been training really well out there, Tautau Moga's been training really well as well so we've got some really good guys that are going to put pressure on some of the guys that are already at our club, to make them train harder and play better.
"There's no real secure spot in our team at the moment and we're all trying to get a jersey so there is a great balance."
Video first appeared on Broncos.com.au