Passionate Parker calls on teammates to follow

AS HIS stats for season 2013 reveal, Corey Parker is an extremely tough and durable player.

He played 22 games for the Broncos, made 926 tackles, 399 hit-ups and led the NRL stats with 130 offloads.

Yet, in front of 620 guests at the Broncos 25th anniversary presentation ball on Friday night the 31-year-old veteran of 13 NRL seasons and 277 games broke down when he was named player of the year and Paul Morgan medal winner.

Some might suggest his reaction shows that men who play one of the most brutal team sports do have a softer side.

It could also mean that because his mum, dad, sister and wife were among those attending, Parker was in an abnormally emotive state.

Or maybe he was simply honoured to have joined the imposing list of Allan Langer, Shane Webcke, Petero Civoniceva and Darren Lockyer as the only Broncos players to have won the prestigious award more than once.

Having known Corey since he joined the Broncos straight out of school in 2000, all of the above would have contributed to his feelings when asked to respond to his award.

After all, it was the last of four for him on the night.

But the underlying reason for his reaction might well have been an appeal to his teammates who, in 2013, were part of the worst Broncos performance in the club's history.

Maybe Parker, through his show of emotion, was inadvertently questioning them about their passion for the club.

I cannot recall a previous season when those with a vested interest in the Broncos have asked so many questions about their team.

Usually a tight-knit and supportive mob, some former players have been scathing and the reasoning for this unease is that apparent lack of passion, the failure to demonstrate how much it hurts to be beaten. Talking the talk yet not always walking the walk.

There was certainly plenty of talk at the ball on Friday night - from those who matter - about the issues facing the club that until recently was regarded as the benchmark in the NRL.

Chief executive Paul White and coach Anthony Griffin were definitive in their opinion that changes would be made.

But while they can alter the structure, they cannot change the attitude.

As occurred at the Roosters this past season, that adjustment can only come from the players themselves.

And when someone like Corey Parker, who was at Brisbane Airport as a 10-year-old in 1992 to welcome his heroes returning from Sydney with their first premiership trophy, can so openly wear his heart of his sleeve, surely that is a call to arms.

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