Sam Thaiday.
Sam Thaiday. Rob Williams

Monday Magistrate: Sam Thaiday’s the man for me

APART from bringing us the revelation of yet another boofhead involved in a drink-driving incident, the national media has seemingly taken a sabbatical from covering the NRL during the festive season.

But with the kick-off to season 2015 just two months away - on March 5 - news hounds will no doubt ramp up their NRL coverage starting this week

A number of interesting issues are likely to come under scrutiny, and one which particularly interests me is the Broncos captaincy.

Coach Wayne Bennett declared in his first week back in Brisbane from Newcastle that co-captains were not on his agenda, which means either Corey Parker or Justin Hodges is set to become a disappointed discard.

But then, maybe both are about to feel the blade of the executioner.

Word is that Parker and Hodges, along with former skipper Sam Thaiday and 2014 boom boy Ben Hunt, are the candidates for the prime job.

Each has been under the peering Bennett microscope since the super coach re-took the reins back in October.

No doubt in Bennett's eyes the status of the Broncos captaincy - a position of eminence in Queensland sport - has been tainted since his departure.

In his previous 21 seasons as coach, the prized job was bestowed on just six players - Wally Lewis, Gene Miles, Allan Langer, Kevin Walters, Gorden Tallis and Darren Lockyer.

But in the past three seasons that number has jumped out to nine, with Thaiday, Parker and Hodges all guiding the club.

Each of the four contenders has his qualities.

Hodges is a veteran, greatly experienced and respected by his peers.

But he is a somewhat injury-prone rising 33-year-old, and Bennett might be looking for a longer-term candidate.

While Parker is 20 days older than Hodges, his superb physical condition suggests his career will be longer.

His leadership skills are in the unpretentious 'follow me' category, and his form in recent years has been simply sensational.

While a distinguished media performer, a sometimes terse personality could be his undoing.

At 28, Thaiday appears perfectly positioned, but a cloud still hangs over his sacking this time last year.

A brilliant media performer and extremely popular among teammates and staff, and a major pin-up boy among fans, Big Sam would relish having the honour bestowed on him again, particularly by Bennett.

Hunt is the genuine bolter among the quartet, but at 24 is possibly too young and inexperienced.

But by naming him as a candidate, Bennett obviously views him a future skipper.

My mail is that Hodges will get the nod, with Hunt to take the reins when the veteran centre retires, more than likely at the end of season 2016 when his current contract expires.

If that is how things eventuate, I would be disappointed for Thaiday.

He was harshly treated 12 months ago and deserves to have his honour - and the responsibility of captaincy - restored.



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