Brisbane veteran Sam Thaiday believes his new role as an impact player off the bench could extend his NRL career.
As the Broncos big man fights for his future at the club, the 29-year-old says his demotion from the starting side could actually help him get more out of his aging body.
“I’m quite enjoying it – my body’s enjoying it,” he said on Tuesday.
“I don’t get bashed around for the first 15 minutes of the game.
“I’m still averaging 50 minutes a game, 20-plus tackles, I’m trying to get through as much work with the ball as I can as well.
“I think the bench role has become a real specialised position these days – teams with great guys that come off the bench keep that intensity up for the 80 minutes.”
Thaiday admitted the change wasn’t just an effort by coach Wayne Bennett to add more firepower to Brisbane’s bench.
It was also partly a consequence of his poor form and fitness levels in pre-season, which sparked speculation surrounding the Queensland Origin mainstay’s future.
“Bit of column A, bit of column B,” Thaiday said when asked how Bennett explained his benching to him.
“There was a little bit of making a point that everyone’s accountable for their job and their position in the team.
“(But) we needed to try to work on making sure that bench and the guys coming off the bench weren’t just going through the motions.
Off contract at the end of the year, Thaiday said he was yet to receive a new deal from the Broncos, where he has spent his entire NRL career to date.
On the back of a four-match winning streak, the Broncos sit equal top of the NRL ladder.
But the visit of the Sydney Roosters on Friday night represents their biggest test this season since their opening round meeting with premiers South Sydney.
Shock losers to Cronulla on the weekend, Thaiday expects a bruising response from the Roosters and their imposing pack of forwards at Suncorp Stadium.
“The Sharks didn’t do us any favours by beating them, they’re going to come up here very angry and aggressive,” he said.
“They’ve got some big boys up the middle and it’s going to be a tough old battle, but their pace and skill out wide is really, really good as well.”