Sam Thaiday deserves a little more respect out of the rugby league community. After facing criticism following the announcement of his retirement over the past fortnight, fans and experts alike are asking for too much from the now 33-year-old former Maroon great.
Targeted for his ‘poor form’ and ‘immaturity away from the football field’ in recent months – and whilst Thaiday has evidently had the ability to often find himself in a scenario of situations at the wrong point in time over the past two seasons – let’s not forget what a good footballer he was and has been; particularly over the ten year period of 2006-16 in which he represented his state 32 times and was capped 29 appearances for his country.
Thaiday’s 300 first grade appearances*, 32 Origins, 29 Tests and two Grand Final appearances is a testament to his footballing abilities and even at thirty-three years of age is playing great footy for what his body has been through over a gruelling 16-year career.
In the final season of his career, Thaiday is averaging a strong output as the Broncos eye off a top four finish. Averaging 40 minutes a game, 22 tackles (93% tackle efficiency) and 6.5 runs for an average of 62 metres (9.53 metres per carry).
Whilst at 33 years of age – and still have some growing up to do – there’s no doubt Thaiday will go down as one of the greatest forwards in Brisbane Broncos history as well as one of the best Indigenous players to ever lace on the boots.
Retiring from the NRL in a bald cap, make-up and at a retirement home will go down as one of the great player retirements of all time and I wish Thaiday the best of luck in his future endeavours, but for now I think he need stay away from the NRL Footy Show amidst his lack of chemistry with ‘funny man’ Beau Ryan.
* Thaiday will play his 300th first grade game against the North Queensland Cowboys in his home town of Townsville on the 9th of August in Round 22.