Bennett unveils Parker as NRL skipper

Bennett unveils Parker as NRL skipper

In typical Wayne Bennett fashion, the master coach realised a dream for Corey Parker by naming him Brisbane captain on Friday – then delivered the veteran a sobering warning.

The no-nonsense mentor hoped the off-contract Parker would play on for at least one more NRL season after anointing him as retired great Justin Hodges’ successor.

But Bennett typically pulled no punches, admitting a veteran player’s form can “go pretty quickly”.

Parker – who turns 34 in May – has shown no signs of slowing down ahead of his 16th NRL season.

The 323-game veteran would be in sight of Broncos great Darren Lockyer’s club record (355) if he played on in 2017.

Bennett said he did not hesitate in picking Parker as the next Brisbane captain but admitted they would have to monitor the back-rower throughout the year.

“The problem for people of Corey’s age is that it can go pretty quickly on them,” he said.

“We will just have to be careful with it.

“But right now, there is no reason why he won’t be here in 2017.”

To his credit, Parker did not flinch when Bennett delivered the home truths while sitting next to him on Friday at the Broncos’ announcement.

“I always said providing the body holds up and I still have the hunger to compete at the highest level, I will keep going,” Parker said.

“But there’s no shying away from the fact that I am 34 this year.

“It can go quite quickly but, at this stage, where I am at – I am happy.”

Parker had shared the captaincy with Hodges in 2014 under previous coach Anthony Griffin.

But Bennett made Hodges sole skipper last season when he returned to Brisbane.

Bennett said he knew by January that Parker was the man to replace Hodges.

“Just the way he came back and knuckled down and got into it,” he said.

Parker held out other glaring candidates Sam Thaiday, Ben Hunt, Darius Boyd and Andrew McCullough.

“He epitomises what all captains at the Broncos have done – he leads from the front,” Bennett said.

“He had some great men here when he came here as a kid like Shane Webcke and Petero (Civoniceva) and he was smart enough to hang around those guys and learn a lot of lessons.

“That’s what the good players do.

“They don’t hope to get it right on game day. They get it right all week and he does that year after year.”

Parker will lead Brisbane – last year’s runners-up – for the first time on Thursday March 3 in their season opener at Parramatta.

“It’s my highest honour,” said Parker who has played 14 State of Origins for Queensland and 12 Tests.

“To earn the captaincy at such a late stage of my career is something I will truly treasure.”

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