Lockyer gives champions' response - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lockyer gives champions' response

By Wayne Heming 24/06/2009 10:37:16 PM Comments (0)

Never underestimate a champion.

Coach Mal Meninga knew his history-seeking Queensland side would be tough to beat when he heard his champion five-eighth Darren Lockyer had been identified by some critics as the Maroons' weak link.

Lockyer's defence was highlighted before the game - and he even admitted himself it was an area that needed work.

But like the champion he is, he answered any doubts with a fine captain's game, writing his name in history in front of 80,459 fans.

The criticism of Lockyer was music to big Mal's ears and a dagger in the chest of NSW coach Craig Bellamy who, as a former assistant coach under Wayne Bennett at the Brisbane Broncos, knew only too well how the 32 year-old Lockyer would respond.

For the record, Lockyer made 18 tackles, scored a try and kept his players composed in the final heart-stopping 10 minutes.

He didn't miss a single tackle.

Next month's third Origin in Brisbane where Queensland will attempt to finish their historic series 3-0 could be Lockyer's Origin swan song with Brisbane likely to re-sign him on the condition he step down from Origin football.

If it is, he'll be remembered along with Wally Lewis and Allan Langer as one of Queensland's most influential Origin players.

Meninga already has a special place in rugby league history in its Team of the Century.

Lockyer's part in leading Queensland to a record fourth successive Origin series surely supports calls for him to become the game's eighth immortal after Clive Churchill, Graeme Langlands, Johnny Raper, Reg Gasnier, Arthur Beetson, Bob Fulton and Wally Lewis.

If Lockyer does walk away from Origin, the Maroon captaincy is in safe hands with 26-year-old hooker Cameron Smith ready to step up.

Smith, who captained Queensland in Lockyer's absence in 2008, scored the try that clinched the historic win.

"It's a night we'll never forget," said Smith.

It was a night Meninga, who did it all as a player with 32 Origins, will never forget.

The win put him up with Wayne Bennett and Arthur Beetson as Queensland's most successful Origin coach with four series' wins - only his were in a row - a feat which may never be bettered.

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