Brisbane Broncos powerhouse Corey Parker will retire from rugby league at the end of 2016 with 340+ NRL games, 19 Origin matches and 13 tests for Australia to his name. Following his retirement announcement Broncos coach Wayne Bennett said: ‘He knew we would go another year with him if he wanted.’ In this extract from Corey’s autobiography Iron Man, you can read why he decided to leave anyway, while still at the top of his game…
The defining moment for me to retire came on a Sunday afternoon in 2016 when I was relaxing at home with Margaux and the kids. We’d played on a Saturday night and I was feeling tired and sore. We were sitting on the deck out the back and Margaux was having a wine and I was having a Scotch. My two boys, Wylei and Jagger, were kicking the footy in the backyard and having fun. Wylei turned to me excitedly and said, ‘Dad, Dad, come kick the ball.’ It was such the right time to be doing it, because it was a beautiful day, but it was the last thing that I felt like doing. I turned to Margaux and told her I couldn’t be bothered, because I didn’t have the energy to kick a ball, then I looked at my kids and thought to myself, You know what? That’s not fair. It’s not their fault. So the penny dropped in my head then and there that it might be time to call it quits. I’m usually sore for about three or four days after a game and my family are the ones who suffer for that.
If I’m honest I’d probably already started thinking about it before that moment, when I was on holidays with the family in December 2015. I always go with Margaux and the kids, my mum and dad, and Skie-Anne and her family, to a caravan park at Southport and I was having a really good time and wasn’t really looking forward to going back to pre-season training. I was still training while I was down there, to stay in shape, but Margaux was saying to me, ‘Just relax.’ I hadn’t signed a deal past 2016, so it started going through my mind, This season could be my last. Those thoughts went away, but then they came back. I ended up speaking with Margaux telling her I was done in my own mind. That was tough, because I was carrying it around with me.
Six weeks out from the announcement, I invited Mum and Dad around for a barbeque and I told them I was going to retire at the end of 2016. Again that was tough, because they’ve been with me every step of the way, but they took it on the chin. They didn’t say too much which surprised me because I expected a very different reaction, especially from Mum. I might have blindsided her, or perhaps she might have suspected it, because I’d already spoken to Dad about the idea of retirement a couple of times but never confirmed it. Mum asked all the normal questions like, ‘What for?’ not because she needed to know but she wanted to make sure I was making the decision for myself and nothing else. I said to Mum, ‘Don’t worry about me. I’m not sure what you’re going to do,’ because she lives, eats and breathes rugby league.
If you haven’t realised already, I like to do things my own way and I had the opportunity to do that with my retirement announcement. I didn’t want to get to a point in my career where someone was dictating to me what was going to happen. It was important for me to do it on my terms – how I wanted and when I wanted. Many people still thought it was too early. But I’d rather do it early than get to a point where people think, Oh geez, Corey’s past it! Ultimately, I couldn’t be happier with how it all unfolded.
Edited extract from Iron Man by Corey Parker ($34.99); published by Pan Macmillan Australia. OUT NOW.
ABOUT COREY PARKER
Corey was born 5 May 1982 in Logan, south Brisbane. He’s a one-club man – he’s played his entire rugby league career (2001-16) with the Brisbane Broncos – and became captain of the team in 2014. He was part of the club’s 2006 premiership-winning side and the second most-capped player, not to mention the leading point-scorer. Corey is the husband of Margaux and father of daughters, Memphis and River, and sons, Jagger and Wylei.
Have you followed Corey’s career? Tell us: has he decided to retire too early, or was it the right move? Let us know in the comments below.