Lockyer a true leader: Meninga - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lockyer a true leader: Meninga

By Wayne Heming 14/07/2009 08:09:00 PM Comments (0)

Victory on Wednesday night would lift champion five-eighth Darren Lockyer into the elite captaincy class of Origin's greatest player Wally Lewis.

Lewis won a record eight man-of-the-match awards and captained Queensland in 30 of 31 Origins, winning 18 of them.

He won seven series' and was despised by Blues' fans because he was so good.

Lockyer has won nine of his 15 Origins as captain.

He lost the 2004-05 series' but bounced back after heavy criticism of his captaincy to win in 2006 and 2007 before overcoming a serious knee injury to lead Queensland to a history-making fourth straight series this year.

He has won man-of-the-match awards and like Lewis has dominated Origin.

The only Origin frontier he hasn't conquered is a series cleansweep.

He can do that in front of a sellout crowd at Suncorp Stadium.

"Darren comes in for all sorts of criticism as most great players do and he handles those criticisms and adversity really well," said Queensland coach Mal Meninga, himself an Origin icon.

"He's a true leader.

"He doesn't say a lot but he leads by example. He's got this great competitive nature that Wally had and Alf (Allan Langer) had and all the greats of Queensland.

"He's right up there with the top echelon."

Meninga said most great players had to deal with criticism because they set such high standards.

"Darren's copped plenty whether it's his defence or his leadership ability early in his career to whether he could handle five-eighth or should go back to fullback.

"He answered them all really well and from a coaching perspective he's a dream player.

"He's low maintenance, he gets on with the job and he wants to be successful and he wants to lead the team to success ... he's very team orientated which is what you need in your great leaders.

"He hates losing which is a good thing, he's a winner, he's got an incredible will to win.

"Every time he steps out on the footy field there's a huge expectation of him and he handles that expectation really well."

Meninga admitted he had "no idea" if Lockyer's 30th Origin game would be his last.

Lockyer has sidestepped retirement speculation since Brisbane and Queensland teammate Justin Hodges hinted Wednesday night would he his swansong.

Meninga said on Origin eve he wasn't real sure what Lockyer was thinking.

"I had a talk to him the other day and I think he is a bit up in their air at the moment about things," he said.

"I would think he would like to finish on a high note, so it depends on the result tomorrow night I would suggest."

Meninga said if Lockyer, poised to sign a new two year deal with Brisbane, was still playing well next season "why wouldn't I pick him".

"I think Darren is enjoying his time in the sun at the moment with the current side.

"If he came to me and asked me about it, I would be more than happy to give him my opinion which would be a positive one.

"But it's really up to him.

"He's a passionate Broncos man and there's no doubt he wants to finish on a high note with them so maybe he might put his energies towards that."

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