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Broncos forward Sam Thaiday.

Sam Thaiday insists the Broncos have the nucleus of a side capable of providing coach Wayne Bennett with a premiership and a fairytale finish to what looms as his final year as coach of the club in 2019.

The retiring 33-year-old Brisbane legend gave his last interview as a player in his full kit, some 90 minutes half after the Broncos' 48-18 loss to St George Illawarra in the elimination semi-final at Suncorp Stadium.

He'd just savoured a nostalgic session on the field with his fellow players, sharing a beer and soaking up what was the last time he will grace a rugby league field.

It was with optimism that Thaiday, who played 304 NRL games for Brisbane, looked to the future after a season where young guns Jamayne Isaako, David Fifita, Kotoni Staggs and the injured Payne Haas and Jaydn Su'A all either debuted or had breakout seasons for Brisbane.

Thaiday said the Broncos "definitely" had a premiership in them.

Thaiday's career comes to an end

"The young guys that got the chance to debut this year are going to be bigger and better for it next year," Thaiday said.

"I am looking forward to seeing Payne Haas, Kotoni Staggs, David Fifita and Jamayne Isaako.

"I think Kodi [Nikorima] and [Anthony] Milford are going to be better again. Another pre-season under their belt will make them a little bit harder, a little bit tougher.

"[Bennett] will definitely be here next year. He will see out his contract with the club. I hope the boys can send him out with a fairytale."

The prospect of watching teenage behemoths Haas and Fifita playing together excites Thaiday.

"Payne has shown how tough he is. He dislocated his shoulder this year and still made a tackle and took a player out," he said.

"Then you see a young guy like Dave Fifita. We've had a few injuries in that back-row area and he has definitely stood up and played a great role for us as an 18-year-old, making line breaks and scoring tries.

"It is fantastic in the forward pack going forward for the Broncos."

At half-time, the Broncos trailed 28-10 against the Dragons and Thaiday was holding on to the memory of the 2006 preliminary final against Canterbury when they came back from a 14-point deficit to win. As the second half unfolded he realised that history was not going to repeat.

"When that siren went I was flooded with emotion," Thaiday said.

"I am definitely going to miss playing for the Broncos next year and being with the boys but I will be a huge part of this club going forward.

"It is a bit bitter-sweet. It has been a fantastic journey but obviously not the way we wanted to finish."

Brisbane forward Sam Thaiday.
Brisbane forward Sam Thaiday. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Thaiday's first final was in 2004 and it was a heartbreaker, but he said the young Broncos of today are in the same boat would only learn from Sunday's loss.

"It was Gorden Tallis' last game for the club and a semi-final against the Cowboys that we lost," he said.

"For a lot of the [young players of 2018] it was their first time playing semi-final footy so they know what the hype is and the week is going to be like going forward now and hopefully they are going to be better next year for it … and learn from it, as I did."

Thaiday's final moments on Suncorp Stadium with his teammates were ones to cherish.

"I said I wanted to go out and have a beer and it was fantastic to have all the boys out there and share one last moment with them on the field," he said, while standing with his Broncos gear on outside the dressing shed.

"I've still got a full kit on. I want to soak up as much as I can.

"There were a lot of 'thank yous' out there, a bit of self-reflection. It was quite nice and a little bit emotional. It has been a fantastic honour and privilege to have been a Bronco for the amount of time I have been and I am definitely going to miss it."

As for favourite memories, Thaiday's have come at either end of his career.

"I can't go past 2006. I was 21 and it was a fantastic year in general for me," he said.

"We won a premiership and I represented Queensland for the first time and got my chance to play for Australia.

"My second last game here, when we played Manly last week, there was 41,000 people …Sam Thaiday masks… Afro wigs. To see that was a huge honour and I think every time I touched the ball the crowd went up and cheered. I've had some fantastic memories here."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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