Parker opens up on his return to rugby league
BRONCOS great Corey Parker says having the chance to play alongside his young idols David Fifita and Payne Haas in the NRL Nines this weekend was an opportunity he just couldn't resist.
The Courier-Mail last week revealed Parker's return to rugby league, having been named as 18th man for the Broncos' Nines squad to travel to Perth this weekend.
The former premiership-winning player, now the club's NRL assistant coach, said his decision to come out of retirement stemmed from a casual chat with Anthony Seibold earlier in the year.
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"Seibs (Seibold) just said would I be interested and that's all he needed to say, because I was keen as mustard," Parker said.
"From my end, the opportunity to pull on the colours again, I couldn't pass up."
Parker turns 38 in May and has not played in the NRL since retiring in 2016, amassing 347 games across a 16-year career.
Having idolised Kevin Walters and Allan Langer as a kid, Parker had his "dreams come true" when he got to play alongside them in the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
Now, he admits he is feeling the same way about getting to run on to Perth Stadium alongside Fifita and Haas.
"The younger guys always look up and have idols," Parker said.
"For a 37-year-old guy to get the opportunity to play alongside Dave Fifita or Payne Haas and Kotoni Staggs, that's pretty cool.
"I've seen Dave when he was 16, 17-years-old and now he's arguably one of the hottest prospects in the NRL.
"That's the beauty about rugby league. I remember seeing my idols, like Kevvie Walters and Allan Langer and I was fortunate enough to get to play with those blokes. It's crazy.
"It works two-fold. I'm 38 in May but I get to play alongside these guys and it's going to be great."
The Origin workhorse was given the green light last week to return to the NRL to play in the shortened format, adding a dash of experience to a youthful Broncos pack.
Despite being almost 20 years older than some of his teammates, Parker admitted he still felt fit enough to keep up with the rest of them.
Parker has been able to maintain his fitness since his retirement but says he may need to get a bit of tackling practice in before match day.
"In my mind, I am (fit enough)," he said.
"I guess we'll wait and see. In fairness, without blowing my own trumpet, I'm still super fit.
"(The Nines) is a different style of fitness. It's not that combat style, hard battle, playing rugby league week in, week out. It's a lot faster.
"I haven't tackled and haven't been tackled in a while, so that's going to be the biggest test."