Wayne made me question true loyalty
SAM Thaiday has revealed that Wayne Bennett's stunning decision to "chase the dollar" and join the Dragons in 2009 caused him to question his own values and could have seen him also leave the Broncos.
In his biography Tries, Lies & Meat Pies, released on July 30, the former Brisbane captain talks for the first time of the impact that Bennett's defection had on the club and him personally.
Thaiday, who will retire at the end of this season after 16 years with the Broncos, says that Bennett's decision to "jump ship" was at odds with the coach's preaching of loyalty to his players.
"His departure to the Dragons had been announced earlier in the year and I struggled to come to terms with it," Thaiday says.
"He was the only first-grade coach I had ever known. For that matter he was the only first-grade coach the Broncos had ever had, but it was more than that. The whole thing seemed out of character.
"Loyalty had always meant a lot to Wayne. He preached it to us fairly constantly. Loyalty to the club and to each other was paramount.
"It was part of what had kept me in Brisbane in those early years, but when this was announced it felt as if he was chasing the dollar. I didn't understand what the hell was going on. It made me question a lot of my own values. If he was willing to jump ship, then why shouldn't I?
"I'm sure there were reasons for doing it. Maybe one day we'll find out. In the end, it was his decision and he did what he thought was best for himself and his family.
"I can respect and understand that, but still at the time, it made my head spin."
Thaiday also reveals that he felt let down when coach Anthony "Hook" Griffin and the club didn't support him in the early days of his short-lived captaincy in 2012 and 2013.
"I'd hoped that as soon as I took on the role that I'd be introduced to layers of structure and support to help me adapt to the new position," Thaiday says.
"Unfortunately, that wasn't true. To succeed, I would need someone guiding me by the hand through that difficult first patch, just to help me find the path myself.
"Without that, I managed to get inside my own head far too often.
"With the wisdom of experience, I can say now that all I needed to do was be myself.
"That's why I had been put in the position.
"No one was under the impression that I was the next Darren Lockyer. They wanted me to be me. At the same time, I couldn't see that.
"That's part of why I needed guidance. If someone had sat me down and told me just to play my natural game, I'm sure I would have been fine. Without that structure, I was flailing."
After two seasons in the job, Thaiday was asked to step down.
"Hook came up to me in the 2014 pre-season with some concerns about my captaincy. He was worried I wasn't up to the task.
"The responsibility had affected my footy and he drew on my stronger performances for Queensland and the Kangaroos as proof that I played better without the burden of captaincy on my shoulders."
Read an extract from Sam Thaiday's book Tries, Lies & Meat Pies, released on July 30, in the Courier-Mail's Qweekend.