Locky's sportsmanship unrivalled: Bennett - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Locky's sportsmanship unrivalled: Bennett

By Wayne Heming 29/03/2011 06:26:47 PM Comments (0)

As rugby league's most successful coach, Wayne Bennett knows something about records.

The 61 year-old master mentor knows even more about what makes footballers tick.

Bennett coaches for his players and in return, they play for him.

It's often said Bennett always has the best players.

But unless you can deal with egos and manage people, it often makes success that much harder to achieve.

Bennett doesn't just shape players' careers.

He's a coach who cares for his players and their families but not all of those he coaches turn out to be champions.

However, most benefit from his uncanny ability to not only draw the best from them as players but also as people.

Darren Lockyer would have been a champion regardless of who coached him.

But those key early years under Bennett started him off on the right path and forged a special friendship between the pair.

Lockyer was greatly influenced early in his career by the late Cyril Connell - Brisbane's much loved talent scout who found him playing at a country carnival.

Regarded as a gentleman by all who met him, Connell taught Lockyer to treat people equally, to always be humble and respectful.

They were traits he'd already started to learn from his parents.

Bennett did the rest, helping develop him as a player, giving him confidence and encouraging him to be a leader that players followed.

When Lockyer announced on Monday that he was retiring, he did it with the humility and humbleness Connell and Bennett first saw in him when he arrived at the Broncos from Roma.

Lockyer's ability to remain magnanimous for someone regularly bashed by bigger players was "very special" according to Bennett.

"One thing about Darren was his wonderful sportsmanship," the seven-time premiership winning coach told AAP.

"Allan Langer was a great sportsman, but he wasn't as good as Locky.

"Alf would get himself in the occasional fight or back chat a referee. Darren Lockyer has never done that, no matter what's happened to him in a game.

"He's never thrown a punch, never head-highed a guy - he's only ever displayed wonderful sportsmanship in 17 tough seasons whether playing for Brisbane, Queensland or Australia."

Bennett doesn't engage in the futile argument of comparing players from different eras and he doesn't debate who should be the next Immortal.

He will however tell you Lockyer's record stands him apart from most who've played in the past 100 years or more.

"There's no player who can match his statistics," fires Bennett when asked Lockyer's place among the all-time greats.

"Stats alone tell you this guy was an absolute champion.

"Forget about whether you saw him play or not, his stats tell you what a great player he was."

For Bennett the best measure of greatness in sport is durability.

"He'll have played 350-odd games once he finishes," he said.

"He's played in every arena and he's won everything that you can possibly win - and won it more than once and in more than one position.

"He played in two different positions and when the best players in those positions are talked about he'll always be mentioned.

"Other guys may have played those positions but nobody has had the success he had playing fullback and five-eighth."

"He is a champion in every sense of the word."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

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