Sam Thaiday: The joker of the pack

Every rugby team needs a joker in the fold. A class down, a jovial character who can lighten the mood and make his teammates laugh.

For the Kangaroos that man is Sam Thaiday.

In recent years the true personality of the Brisbane Broncos back-rower has emerged. Playful, funny, self-deprecating, Thaiday is a breath of fresh air from the usual player fare thrown up in the rugby league media.

In 2016 his hijinks have seemed to have gone up a notch or two.

During State of Origin there was his hilarious interview after Game I where he likened Queensland’s win to losing your virginity.

“It was a bit like losing your virginity, it wasn’t very nice but we got the job done.”

Most laughed, some were shocked, and predictability the politically correct were outraged.

Then there was the video of him twerking on camera behind an unaware Wayne Bennett on TV in the Broncos shed.

During the Four Nations we’ve had him poking fund at his club coach after the Scotland game, saying Bennett might do a runner like he did back in 2005.

Back then Bennett tried to escape the Australia media at the airport, after returning home after the Kangaroos had lost the Tri-Nations to New Zealand, but it ended up costing him his job.

“Hopefully we can send Wayne back to Brisbane with his tail between his legs – he might sneak out the back door again, who know?” Thaiday joked.

After Australia’s win over the Kiwis in Coventry Thaiday was at it again, mixing one-liners with some serious thoughts on England and the Four Nations.

Asked about the influence Bennett can have on England, the forward said: ‘”If they can stay awake in the team meeting I’m sure he’ll inspire the boys.”

With most of the Four Nations consumed by talk of venues, whether Bennett needs to promote rugby league, England‘s stuttering performances and the rivalry between Bennett and Mal Meninga, Thaiday has kept the mood light. It’s been refreshing from the Townsville product.

At 31 Thaiday’s career is starting to wind down somewhat. For a decade he has been a mainstay of the Broncos, Queensland and Australian pack.
But how long he keeps his spot in those rep teams, under increasing pressure, remains to be seen. More recently he has modfied his game as an impact player off the bench. Or as the man himself calls it – “the utility with ability”.

Thaiday’s worth isn’t just in bringing the ball, offloads and making tackles. It’s in team camaraderie and spirit as well.

Earlier this year the forward got his own radio show on Brisbane station Nova 106.9 called ‘Thank God it’s Thaiday’. On it he talks about topics outside of rugby league – music, cooking, gardening etc – to showcase his sense of humour.

He’s also a strong presence on Twitter at @samthaiday with more than 45,000 followers and Instagram with over 113,000 followers.

A career in the media beckons for the afro-haired Kangaroo. Matt Johns and Beau Ryan have successfully made the transition from the NRL to media in the past 15 years, surely Thaiday is next.

For now enjoy his antics and his determination not to take himself too seriously. In an age where access is rare and we rarely get to know what players are really like, especially down under, Thaiday stands out from the crowd.

Thaiday, his loves outside of football like music, gardening, cooking and his role of being a father and husband and is set to showcase his natural storytelling abilities and wicked sense of humour.  

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