Corey Parker looks almost old enough to retire from a real job. The 34-year-old Brisbane Broncos captain has sported grey hair for several years now, and announced on Monday that season 2016 would be his last.
Just two weeks ago in an exclusive story for News Corp subscribers, it was reported that Parker would play on till at least 2018. But he's hanging up his boots at the end of this year, or to be more realistic, he'll probably be tossing them in the corner somewhere, because who hangs boots up?
Parker has played 336 NRL games, all of them for the Broncos. He sits equal fourth on the all-time list alongside Brad Fittler. In front of him are Darren Lockyer (355), Terry Lamb (350) and Steve Menzies (349).
For years, Parker was one of those players you barely noticed. He toiled away, doing all that was asked of him and plenty more, without ever threatening to do anything too flashy. He was a coach's dream but the favourite player of few fans.
In the last couple of years, Parker's presence on the field has seemed to grow larger. Maybe it's the retirement of so many of his contemporaries. He was one of few remaining last easily recognisables faces to the casual fan after the retirement of stalwarts like Darren Lockyer and Justin Hodges.
But his play seemed to change too. There was still no razzle, and not much dazzle, but he just seemed to get harder and harder to tackle each year. Parker was one of Queensland's best in Origin I this year.
"The game of rugby league has given me so much over the years, memories, friendships, and I've taken off the game for such a long period of time," Parker said on Monday in announcing his retirement.
"I feel very fortunate to have come here as a young kid of 17 and to fulfil a dream of playing for a club that I love in the game that I love. Sixteen years later, to still be able to sit here in the colours and club is something I'm very proud of.
"I look forward to being able to give back to the game that I love so much."
Parker has racked up a total of 30 games for Queensland and Australia. He won't be remembered as a great, but he's unquestionably on the next level down.
Opportunities in the media are said to be in his post-retirement plans. That could be interesting, as Parker has been known to swat away journalists' questions which he considered too frivolous.Suggest a correction