NRL-starved Smith 'hungry', says Lockyer - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL-starved Smith 'hungry', says Lockyer

By Wayne Heming 03/02/2010 08:12:33 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane captain Darren Lockyer has noticed the hunger driving Tim Smith's NRL fightback.

While Peter Wallace has a stranglehold on the Broncos No.7 jumper, the versatile Smith, who has impressed both Lockyer and coach Ivan Henjak with his discipline, is pushing hard for a bench utility role for Brisbane's premiership opener against North Queensland on March 12.

Wallace is currently battling hamstring tightness and while he is not considered in doubt for the season opener at Suncorp Stadium, the Broncos are happy a replacement of Smith's calibre is available.

"There's no tear or anything, he's just having some tightness so we don't want to push him," Henjak told AAP.

"He's felt some tightness and we've said `OK, let's not push it so it becomes a drama at the beginning of the season' so we're managing it to make sure it isn't."

The 2005 Dally M rookie of the year, Smith walked away from the NRL three games into the 2008 season citing personal health reasons and media harassment after being involved in a string of off-field incidents.

He tried to escape the spotlight by heading to the UK and was playing some impressive football before suffering a shoulder injury which forced him to return home.

Starting out at Parramatta, the young No.7 had the blessing of none other than Eels legend Peter Sterling when he started in the NRL but at 25, Smith is fighting to establish himself again.

Smith, who can play for the Broncos after signing a contract with its Queensland Cup feeder club Easts, has kept a low profile while training with Brisbane.

But there's every chance he could end up in Henjak's first 17-man squad.

"From what I've seen of him so far, he's really focused and very keen to do well, I can see that," said Lockyer.

"A player of his talent with his hunger is going to be an asset."

Lockyer for one will sleep better knowing Smith is around after he was forced to play halfback against Melbourne in last year's grand final qualifying loss to Melbourne after Wallace broke his ankle a week earlier against the Dragons.

"Wal (Wallace) is obviously the starting halfback but I'm sure Tim along with young Ben Hunt will get ample opportunities in the trials to stake a claim," he said.

"After what happened last year when we lost Wal, we found out how much he means to the team when we played Melbourne.

"If there's an injury to Wal or myself I think Tim Smith is capable of doing a really good job there."

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