Thaiday skips 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.