The disappointment that drives Thaiday
TONIGHT Sam Thaiday will enter his 15th NRL season, with one lingering disappointment weighing on his mind.
Despite all the prestige associated with pulling on a Broncos jersey, the star veteran has still only won one single premiership and it was so long ago he's almost forgotten how heavy the trophy is.
It's a world away from what Thaiday expected from his own career when he was doing a lap of honour alongside the great Darren Lockyer in 2006.
Then just 21, Thaiday had his whole career ahead of him and like many young premiership winners, he thought the massive achievement was a piece of cake.
"This is my 15th season with the Broncos. And in 15 tries I won one premiership," Thaiday told foxsports.com.au.
"It happened when I was 21 and I think when you're at that young age you kind of look at it and think, 'yeah, this is going to happen every year, we're such a gun team and Darren Lockyer plays in our side' and this and that but it just shows how hard it is to play in (a grand final) first of all, let alone win one."
He's played just one grand final since - experiencing the heartbreak of being on the wrong end of the code's sole golden-point grand final in 2015.
And with time starting to get away from him, representative retirement looms as a distinct possibility, with the goal of getting the best from the twilight of his club career front of mind.
It won't come this year though, with one huge individual milestone driving his push for another State of Origin campaign.
The end-of-season World Cup also dangles a carrot of temptation.
"(Rep retirement is) always something I am thinking about and weighing up," Thaiday admitted.
"There's probably still a couple of milestones I'd like to hit with the Queensland team.
"I'd love to get to 30 State of Origin matches and I'm on 28 at the moment. That's a really, really big achievement and one that's celebrated within the Queensland team, so if I could do that it'd be great.
"If not, it doesn't bother me, I've had such a great Origin career and been part of some really good Origin teams and made some lifelong mates through that.
"I think end of the year, World Cup would be a fantastic goal to get to.
"And I think I'd sit down then with the wife and have a good old chinwag and discuss with the wife where we're at for the next year."
Another Origin series win, followed by a triumphant World Cup campaign, would cap a wildly successful representative career.
Winning's become a habit that dies hard in maroon and green and gold but Thaiday clearly feels the sting of a relatively bare cupboard at Red Hill during his time there.
"I do believe in premiership windows," Thaiday said.
"We were probably in one when I was a young kid and I was first coming into first grade and we probably let a couple slip, which is always fairly disappointing.
"At the moment we've got some great young talent. We were talking about it this morning in the car, just the depth we have at the Broncos at the moment, we've got a fair few bases covered.
"It's down to us to make sure another crop of potential doesn't come to nothing."