Wayne Bennett has recalled Andrew Symonds' flirtation with rugby league, admitting he told the late Australian star to shelve his genuine NRL ambitions and stick to cricket.
Symonds died on Saturday night when his car left the road and rolled in Hervey Range, about 50km from Townsville.
Tales of mateship, fishing and a love of footy have been told since, the star cricket allrounder just as comfortable in a pair of Broncos shorts as his baggy green.
Recalling their friendship on Wednesday, former Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett said Symonds had been seriously interested in ditching life as an Australian cricketer to play rugby league.
"He came to the Broncos when he was about 28 or 29, still playing for Australia at cricket," Bennett said.
"He thought he'd see how he'd go at rugby league - I convinced him that probably wasn't going to be his career.
"He was genuine about it, but you can't be a great player in one sport for so long and late in your career come over and think it's all going to happen for you in another code."
Symonds revealed his first ambitions with the Broncos in 2002, the year before he arrived on the international scene with a brilliant World Cup hundred against Pakistan.
He also trained at Red Hill in 2007, the year of his maiden Test century at a packed MCG.
Symonds didn't shirk it either, colliding with a young Darren Lockyer while attempting to catch a bomb on his first visit and years later wrestling with giant forward Dave Taylor.
"We did all that and he could play, there was no doubt about that, but there was another level to play at and that was his challenge at 29 years of age," Bennett said.
"He had two or three sessions there, we all respected him enormously, thought he had something to offer.
"We'd always catch up, go to games, often come into the change room. Everybody liked him, we're all very sad for his family."
Asked after his wrestling session with Taylor if he could have carved out a career with the Broncos, Symonds said it would have been good fun to try.
"I probably would have got bashed and buckled, I don't know," he said.
"But for longevity in life, I think I picked the right sport."
Australian Associated Press
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