In the 2007 NRL season Thaiday suffered an injury to the bone around his eye socket and missed all three games of the 2007 State of Origin series for the Queensland Maroons while waiting to recover. He made his 50th first grade appearance in the NRL in 2007 and re-signed with the Broncos until the end of 2009.
In April 2009, Thaiday was named in the 25-man Queensland squad before the opening match of the 2009 State of Origin series. He was named man of the match in the second game of the series. At the end of that season Thaiday played for Australia in their successful 2009 Four Nations campaign in Europe.
For the 2010 ANZAC Test, Thaiday was selected to play for Australia at second-row forward and was named man of the match in their victory against New Zealand. During his career Sam Thaiday has often seen himself under attack for the way in which he plays the game, most notably his tendency to enter brawls and scuffles late to "protect" his team-mates. Loved by Brisbane and Queensland fans for his role as an 'enforcer', he's also vilified by opposition fans for what they claim as cheap shots, bullying and his consistency as the "Third man in". In the 2010 State of Origin series Thaiday was much maligned by NSW Blues fans for the way in which he played the game. In Game 2 Luke O'Donnell was a guilty party in a dangerous tackle that sparked an all-in brawl on YouTube, the likes of which hadn't been seen for several years. Most notable was a moment towards the end of the melee in which O'Donnell could be seen to headbutt and then uppercut Queensland's Dave Taylor, upon seeing this Sam Thaiday re-entered the fray and punched O'Donnell twice. Speaking on his involvement Thaiday said, "I saw the headbutt and I made a bee-line straight over to it. That's just not football; fair is fair if you want to punch on with a bloke I'm all for that. But headbutting - that's a bit below the belt". But the New South Welshman saw things differently, "I keep getting asked about the headbutt - I don't think there was much in that," O'Donnell said. "I was getting pulled and pushed in every direction, and Taylor kept scruffing me up. I was doing whatever I could to get out of there. Sam Thaiday ran in and started throwing punches. There were a few dog shots coming in. Someone said I should've been sent off. That's a bit rich considering they were coming in and hitting from behind with some cheap shots. I've got a bruised eye from a nice cheapy from someone when I was on the ground. Self-preservation crosses your mind at some stage." Regardless, Thaiday said he felt comfortable with his role in taking on O'Donnell after coming to Taylor's aid. "I look after my mates. I'm a big family man, I look after my family and all these boys are my family," he said. In a 2010 NRL game, between the Brisbane Broncos and the North Queensland Cowboys, Sam again came under criticism, again for entering a fight as the "Third-man-in" (though technically he was fourth). The NRL match review committee chairman Greg McCallum issued Thaiday a warning for his repeat infringements and threatened him with a ban. McCallum said that Thaiday was treading a fine line rushing in to "protect" teammates he felt had been aggrieved. Broncos fans and team mates took a different view, "Sam's there to protect his players whether he's playing for us, his state or his country," Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough said of the incident.
Thaiday played for Australia in their victory in the 2012 ANZAC Test against New Zealand. He also played in Game I of the 2012 State of Origin series but had to pull out of Game II with a shoulder injury.