Lockyer free to play rep footy: Broncos - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lockyer free to play rep footy: Broncos

By Laine Clark 26/06/2009 07:51:13 PM Comments (0)

Contract talks with Darren Lockyer will be finalised soon - but the Broncos have dismissed speculation that they will add a clause ruling him out of representative football from 2010.

Broncos boss Bruno Cullen says Lockyer, 32, can play for his state or country for as long as he wants.

"I can see the benefit of the Broncos encouraging all of our players not playing rep footy - think of all the premierships we might have won," Cullen told AAP.

"But imagine how Darren would feel if we said `you can play for us but you are not playing rep football'.

"Those sorts of decisions have got to come from the individual.

"I wouldn't even dare suggest it. It would be enough to strain the relationship.

"Fancy Bruno Cullen telling Darren Lockyer - one of the all-time great players - that he is not allowed to play rep football?

"It's ridiculous."

Cullen hoped Lockyer's two-year contract extension would be finalised "sooner rather than later" once the Broncos skipper's agent George Mimis returned from overseas on Monday.

But he said Brisbane had never inserted conditions in contracts barring players from rep footy - and never would.

And Cullen was angry that the Lockyer speculation had been linked to former Test prop Shane Webcke's decision to retire from rep footy in 2006.

"Webby came to us and said he would dedicate his final year to the Broncos," Cullen said.

"That was entirely Shane's call. We never asked him not to do it.

"And we would never ask Locky or anyone - whether they were in the under 20s or the highest profile player - to do it.

"We always encourage our players to play as much representative football as they can - that's what you play sport for.

"If he (Lockyer) doesn't play (rep footy) that's fine, but it has got to be his decision entirely."

After helping Queensland win an unprecedented fourth straight Origin series on Wednesday night, Lockyer and the rest of the Maroons contingent have crashed back to earth at the Broncos.

Lockyer will lead a Broncos outfit out at Parramatta on Sunday that have lost their last three games - and conceded a total of 138 points in those defeats.

Cullen admitted they were "in a hole" - but thought it would have occurred much earlier.

"We are such a young side and history shows that the raw energy and enthusiasm starts to wane a bit after about five or six weeks," he said.

"We knew it (a slump) would come at some time. It probably came eight or nine weeks later than first thought.

"It's not easy to get out of, but with the return of the Origin players ... hopefully that gives everyone a lift and we can start coming back."

Cullen said their predicament was "no big deal" - yet.

"We are in a hole, no one is enjoying that - but we lost six games in a row the year we won the premiership (2006)," he said.

"People were talking about slumps and two months later we were the premiers.

"Of course you don't get out of things like that without trying so the boys and the coaching staff have a lot of work to do.

"(But) I would be more concerned if we lost three or four in a row in July or August when Origin is all over."

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