He was once accused of not showing senior players enough respect, but now Canterbury firebrand David Klemmer believes retiring Brisbane captain Corey Parker is calling it quits too early.
After a personal feud that fed State of Origin headlines for almost a year, Klemmer and Parker buried their hatchet after the Queensland forward’s final interstate game in Sydney last month.
However, on the eve of what could be their last one-on-one duel on Thursday night, the NSW enforcer has gone one step further, saying the 34-year-old Parker hasn’t jumped the gun on retirement from the NRL.
“At the start of the year or end of last year, he was talking about playing on for a couple more years. Now he thinks this is the right choice for him,” Klemmer told AAP.
“But I reckon he could still go around for a couple more years if he wanted to. He’s a class player and he’s be looking for a big game on Thursday because he’s the captain.”
Klemmer said he was glad to have approached Parker after Origin III to ensure any lingering animosity between the pair had dissipated, and to pay tribute for such a decorated career.
“Not many people can play 300-plus first grade games. I know I wouldn’t get there,” Klemmer said.
“He’s in an elite group. He’s won a comp, he’s won a World Cup and he’s won Origin. Not many people can do that. There’s a rare couple that do.
“We had a yarn after Origin and we’re on level terms at the moment. We don’t talk much because we’re obviously in different states but we had a good chat after the game, which was good for both of us.”
Klemmer admits the Bulldogs, despite winning six of their past seven to sit in fourth spot on the ladder, have been unconvincing in the build-up to next month’s finals series.
But he believes the close nature of their results means they are also match-hardened.
“I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating. We’re playing for each other and you can see it,” he said.
“It’s building good team morale. If we do get in those situations, we’re going to know how it feels and how to grind games out. If we want to play semi-finals though, we have to play for the full 80 minutes.”