Thaiday dares to dream of fairytale farewell premiership
RETIRING Broncos legend Sam Thaiday says a fairytale NRL premiership farewell is now a distinct possibility and urged his Brisbane teammates to follow his lead.
Thaiday will make what could be his last appearance at home for the Broncos in Sunday's final regular season game against Manly at Suncorp Stadium.
The Broncos will officially farewell Thaiday at the Father's Day clash, but there is a chance he could play another home game in the first week of the finals.
Thaiday's 16 season career is now in its final stages with the possibility he only has two games remaining if the Broncos bow out of the play-offs in week one.
The 33-year-old forward remains Brisbane's most popular player and will make his 303rd appearance for the club against the Sea Eagles.
Thaiday has watched close friend Johnathan Thurston suffer through a forgettable final NRL season results-wise, with the Cowboys narrowly avoiding the wooden spoon.
Thaiday and skipper Darius Boyd are the only remaining players from Brisbane's last NRL premiership victory in 2006 and Thaiday said he would do all he could to lead the Broncos to another triumph in the final weeks of his career.
"I can only worry about myself and bring my best game for the boys," Thaiday told The Courier-Mail.
"Hopefully by leading by example they will put their hand up as well and play some good footy.
"I think that's what everyone has done the last two weeks. We've really tested ourselves against some really good sides in the Bunnies and Roosters.
"The big test is going to be playing a Manly side that has nothing to lose. That has been our downfall this year.
"I hope it's not my last home game. It would be fantastic to finish fifth or sixth (and get a home final). There are a heap of scenarios.
"We've put ourselves in the position where we have to wait for other results to see how high we can finish. If we go out there and get a win that's all we can do.
"It's going to be an emotional game. A lot of my family and friends will be there. It's going to be a great Sunday afternoon in Brisbane."
Thaiday made his NRL debut for the Broncos as an 18-year-old in 2003.
He recently joined Darren Lockyer (355 games) and Corey Parker (347 games) as the only Broncos to rack up 300 games for the club and has a rare opportunity to retire with a premiership finale.
Former captain Justin Hodges fell agonisingly short of a premiership farewell in 2015 when the Broncos were trumped by North Queensland in the golden-point all-Queensland epic grand final.
The Broncos have been up-and-down for most of the season but have hit their straps in the past fortnight with wins over the top-two Rabbitohs and Roosters.
Thaiday said there was no reason Brisbane could not become the first team since the NRL's creation in 1998 to win the premiership from outside the top four.
"Why not? I still think it's a very open competition," he said.
"There hasn't been one team this year that has dominated for a long period of time and put their hand up and said 'we're the premiership favourites'.
"Our biggest opposition every week is the 17 guys that go out on the field (in Broncos colours). We've beaten ourselves a few times this year.
"We've shown glimpses of some brilliance. I think anything can happen once we're in that top eight.
"There is a sense of belief. We're playing with confidence, simplicity and having fun and enjoying our footy."
Coach Wayne Bennett is a firm believer that being in good form heading into the finals is the most important factor in a premiership tilt.
"I've seen lots of open competitions and it's certainly open this year, there's not much doubt about that," Bennett said.
"It's the right time of the year to be playing well, that's the key. We've just got to hope we can keep it going.
"We're no chance if we're not at our best. That's our challenge, to be up for another four weeks like we have been the last two.
"It's a good time to do it. The players have shown what they can do. It's a case of getting that consistency they need.
"You're down to five weeks left in the competition. It can't be hard (to get motivated).
"It's what you play for. You want to be there in those big games. I can't imagine why that's going to be hard."
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