Rather than sulk, Sam Thaiday says being relegated to the bench helped him find the form that looks set to not only earn him another Broncos contract but a Kangaroos nod.
Thaiday’s 12-year Brisbane career appeared on the line when returning coach Wayne Bennett refused to re-sign the burly back-rower at the start of 2015, instead challenging him to show he was worthy of a new deal.
Thaiday responded with career-best form that has him in line to retain his Kangaroos spot for the trans-Tasman Test in Brisbane on May 1 despite the return of up to 10 players who missed the recent Four Nations due to injury.
Rather than consider it a slap in the face, Thaiday said being benched at the start of the year by Bennett only helped his game.
“It freshened me up if anything,” he said.
“The first 10 to 20 minutes of every game is intense so sitting on the bench for that only helps.”
Now starting in Brisbane’s front row, Thaiday believed he had done enough to silence the doubters but was still unsure what Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens had planned for May 1.
“It will be interesting to see what Sheensy does,” he said.
“He’s always been one to stay loyal to teams – hopefully my form over the last few weeks has been good enough.
“If not I will enjoy the week off.”
Thaiday believed he had done enough to earn another Broncos contract – a point rammed home by Brisbane legend Gorden Tallis in the media last week.
Thaiday laughed when reminded that Tallis had claimed the back-rower’s form had only made life difficult for Brisbane by bumping up his price on the open market.
“I am waiting for the invoice but it’s good to have people in your corner,” he said of Tallis’ support.
“I want to stay at the Broncos, that’s why I am busting my butt week in, week out to try and get a contract at the club.”
Asked if he preferred to have his future decided by State of Origin’s May 27 opener, Thaiday said: “That would be good.
He then joked: “If not I will just play a blinder in the first Origin and bump my price up even more.”
Meanwhile, Thaiday hoped Broncos skipper Justin Hodges (hamstring) would return in Saturday night’s NRL clash with Parramatta in a last gasp Kangaroos audition.
He did not return for the second half of their last round loss to St George Illawarra.
And Thaiday revealed that Kiwi back-rower Alex Glenn may return in a month from a facial fracture suffered against the Dragons.
“I am pleased to say it is not as bad as first thought,” he said.