Parker's sound advice to the stars of tomorrow
Recently retired Broncos skipper Corey Parker has urged the current crop of NRL players to make the most of their opportunities, insisting no one can be sure what the future holds on or off the field.
The 347-game veteran was announced as one of 46 NRL Ambassadors for the 2017 Telstra Premiership season and offered sage advice for youngsters hoping to forge lengthy careers in the game.
The NRL has employed pathway programs in the National Youth Competition to ensure all players are well prepared for life after footy through apprenticeships, TAFE courses or university degrees, and Parker wants the game's next generation to make full use of what's on offer in case their careers don't go as planned.
"Enjoy yourself would probably be the first bit," Parker offered as his first bit of advice.
"To a rookie that's embarking on their first year in the NRL, [my advice] would be to enjoy it because you never know what's around the corner.
"I was fortunate enough to go on a career that was 16 years long, but the average lifespan of an NRL player is two years. If you look at it in that regard then you've got to take every day as it comes and enjoy it."
Parker said he would embrace his role as an NRL Ambassador, with regional football one of the key areas he'd like to assist.
"It gives me an opportunity now to give back to the game that has given me so much over a long period of time," he said.
"It's sort of funny how we go through the game of rugby league for – in my case 16 years – and you take away so much from the game, and now's a good opportunity to give back.
"There are all sorts of areas, and certainly that [bush footy] is an area that's been identified; grassroots, regional areas and places where I suppose the game doesn't touch as much as it can at times. We've all got a role to play there so it's an exciting year."
With the new season less than five weeks away, Parker predicted he would go through the same emotions as all recently retired players and get itchy feet come Round 1.
However, Broncos fans shouldn't expect the 34-year-old to pull on the boots anytime soon, with Parker confirming he had no intentions to return to the footy field.
"I've got no doubt that when the whistle goes and the season stars I'll have a little itch [in my feet] and I think that's all part of the process," he said.
"For me, once I made the decision mentally that it was time to give it up, that was where it stayed."