Broncos coach backs Lockyer's defence - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Broncos coach backs Lockyer's defence

By Wayne Heming 08/04/2009 06:02:14 PM Comments (0)

Coach Ivan Henjak has backed Brisbane captain Darren Lockyer's defence and ability to handle any roughhouse Sydney Roosters' tactics in their NRL clash on Friday night.

A Roosters pack - spearheaded by bruising forwards Willie Mason, Nate Miles, Mark O'Meley and Craig Fitzgibbon - is expected to give Lockyer another torrid working over in their traditional Good Friday showdown in Sydney.

"They (opposing teams) always do that, it's part of life for Locky now," said Henjak when asked if the Roosters would go hunting for his champion five eighth.

"He's used to it now."

Dragons forward Ben Creagh scored a bulldozing try over Lockyer last week, although Henjak insisted the skipper had been let down by his inside defence in that instance.

"Look, Lockyer's handling things quite well there and I've got no concerns about the traffic that's running at him," said Henjak.

"He's more than capable of handling his own defence."

Rival coaches have been running big players at Lockyer for years, as much to wear him down and dull his attacking brilliance as exploit any serious defensive weakness.

However, constant talk of now-retired Tonie Carroll being Lockyer's defensive "minder" gave weight to critics' claims and he has been saddled with the baggage of being tagged a suspect defender ever since.

It's worth considering some statistics.

Despite being the most targeted five-eighth in the game, Lockyer missed 67 tackles in 17 games in 2008. He missed seven against the Roosters in last year's Good Friday clash.

But his 3.9 average fell well short of South Sydney halfback Chris Sandow's 7.4 missed tackles pre game and the 5.6 per game by Bulldogs No.7 Brett Kimmorley who was playing for the Sharks.

And in his first four games this year Lockyer has missed just 11 tackles (2.8av) yet he has upped his defensive workload by almost 50 per cent.

Henjak will change his starting line-up after training on Thursday with back-rower Ben Teo (ankle) likely to be replaced by Lagi Setu if he gets through a fitness test on his bruised sternum.

Setu's promotion would allow Henjak to boost the size of his interchange bench with either Josh McGuire or Ashton Sims joining power prop Dave Taylor in his 17-man squad.

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