Lockyer's defence under microscope again - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lockyer's defence under microscope again

By Wayne Heming 15/06/2009 05:56:26 PM Comments (0)

NSW is set to zero in on Queensland skipper Darren Lockyer in Origin II with new statistics again highlighting the champion five-eighth's defensive flaws since the retirement of his right-side bodyguard Tonie Carroll.

Official figures provided by NRL Stats reveal Lockyer has missed 54 tackles in 12 NRL games this season.

But the big concern is that 26 of them - or almost half - have come in his last four games for the Broncos.

Those statistics get even worse with the missed tackle count blowing out to 33 in his last five games if you include the first Origin in Melbourne last month.

All up Lockyer has missed 65 tackles in 14 games in 2009 which includes the Test against New Zealand.

The Bulldogs targeted his right hand side heavily last Friday night in their 44-22 win, with Lockyer coming up with seven missed tackles, including a bad defensive miss on opposite Ben Roberts which led to a key try.

"He got caught out a couple of times on the weekend but it's something Darren is used to," said Queensland chairman of selectors Des Morris.

"I don't think it will be an issue for Queensland, he's always targeted.

"I'm sure Mal (Meninga) has got our defensive structure covered and it's not a concern for us."

Lockyer's defence suffers when centre Justin Hodges is not on his right shoulder.

When Hodges limped off in the first Origin game in Melbourne, NSW piled on the points directing their attack down the Maroons right side.

It's no coincidence Brisbane have leaked more than 90 points in two games without Hodges - still a few weeks away from returning from a grade two hamstring tear - highlighting how important he is to helping Lockyer defensively.

When Carroll was Lockyer's bodyguard for Brisbane and Queensland players always thought twice about running at him for fear of being smashed by his minder.

It was the same when Peter Ryan looked after halfback Allan Langer when he was targeted by bigger runners.

Lockyer, 32, has had his defence questioned in the past.

And he's often responded by playing some of his best football.

Earlier this year there was speculation his place in Queensland's Origin side was under threat.

He answered that criticism in the week's leading up to the first game which Queensland won 28-18.

Origin icon Meninga couldn't care less what tactics NSW employ against Lockyer in his 29th Origin.

He made his views widely known before the series, declaring Lockyer's presence, calmness, leadership and composure made those around him feel almost indestructible.

Queensland selectors are expected to make just one change for Origin II in Sydney on Wednesday week with Cowboys centre Willie Tonga earning a recall for his first game since 2005 for the injured Hodges.

A specialist left side centre, Tonga could be accommodated with Greg Inglis shifting into Hodges' right side spot.

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