Anthony Griffin’s rebuilding project at Brisbane has continued with Corey Parker and Justin Hodges to lead the NRL club as co-captains in 2014.
Under-pressure Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin’s Red Hill revolution took a dramatic twist on Friday as he appointed Corey Parker and Justin Hodges as the first co-captains in the NRL club’s 25-year history.
Hours earlier he stood alongside a disappointed Sam Thaiday who announced he was relinquishing the captaincy at Griffin’s urging.
The team leadership switch follows a backroom shuffle in September when Griffin dumped conditioning chief Tony Guilfoyle and football manager James Hinchey before headhunting Melbourne’s high-performance guru Alex Corvo.
Several players have also left including Peter Wallace and Corey Norman as Griffin aims to revitalise his playing list through additions including former Dally M winner Ben Barba and ex-Sydney Rooster Martin Kennedy.
The move to appoint 31-year-olds Hodges and Parker to the captaincy, both off contract at the end of the season, has also led to conjecture it could help smooth the way for Australian captain Cameron Smith’s possible recruitment to the club as leader from 2015.
Griffin concedes he something had to give after two underwhelming seasons at the helm for the Broncos including last year’s 12th placed finish, the worst in club history.
“I’ve made those calls, but I haven’t made those for any other reason than because I’m a sore loser too and I’ve got a fierce passion to make sure we’ve got everything in place to go forward, to be successful,” he said.
“I’m under pressure every day mate. It’s professional football and you’re coaching but I’m not going to whinge about that, it’s what you’re in the job for.
“Now the’s time you need to be at your best … now’s the time when you need to earn your money.”
Parker, who narrowly missed out on the captaincy when Thaiday was appointed following Darren Lockyer’s retirement in 2011, is coming off the back of a remarkable 2013 where he regained his Queensland State of Origin place and earned a berth in Australia’s victorious World Cup squad.
The rise to captain also marks a high point for Hodges, whose time at the Broncos hasn’t always gone smoothly with injuries and a two-year stint away from the club at the Sydney Roosters.
Both admitted their commitment to the Broncos meant they couldn’t refuse the call to lead the club during it’s most difficult period.
“It’s a big challenge, it’s obviously fresh for all of us involved and something I know personally myself I’m looking forward to,” Parker said.
“One of Hodgo’s greatest traits is he’s got a lot who want to follow him. Between the two of us, I’m sure we’ll do a good job.”
Both men said they felt bad for Thaiday, who said he remained committed to the Broncos despite Griffin forcing him to consider handing over the captaincy in the interests of his own form.
The Test back-rower was approached by Griffin following the World Cup, when it was made clear the coach didn’t think Thaiday could play at his best while he continued as captain.
Thaiday said he’d taken a long time to accept his coach’s view and had made the decision to step down with a “very heavy heart”.
“This decision, even though it’s probably one of the toughest ones I’ve had to make in my footballing career, has been made to benefit the team and, myself being a team man, I’m always trying to put the team first,” he said.
“Me stepping down as Broncos captain is hopefully going to help the team in the future.”