Bennett factor doesn't faze Locky - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bennett factor doesn't faze Locky

By Laine Clark 17/05/2011 08:14:54 PM Comments (0)

The man who helped launch Darren Lockyer's stunning State of Origin career is threatening a not so happy ending - Wayne Bennett.

But it seems the outgoing Queensland captain won't be losing any sleep over it.

Ex-Maroons mentor Bennett appears to have done the unthinkable in dyed-in-the-wool Queenslanders' eyes - provide NSW an Origin blueprint for success.

Apart from his Dragons outfit providing seven players cut from the classic Origin mold to the Blues side for May 25's opener in Brisbane, Bennett has reportedly been swapping notes with NSW coach Ricky Stuart.

Lockyer - who retires at the end of the season - admitted he could see Bennett's influence just looking at the new-look NSW side.

"The Dragons are by far the best team in the competition, they play a style of game that suits Origin football," said Lockyer, who will equal Allan Langer's record for most Origins when he runs out for No.34 next week.

"They are mentally tough players and that has probably been influenced by Wayne.

"And they (NSW) are much better prepared now that Ricky is not an NRL coach any more.

"He has put a lot of work into the series already - we are aware of that."

Maroons coach Mal Meninga added: "I look through the (NSW) side and some of the qualities of the players match up to the qualities that you need to play at Origin level.

"I think he (Stuart) has done a good job in selecting the side."

But Lockyer - who began his Origin career in 1998 under Bennett - hardly seemed fazed.

"Every year the motivation for them (NSW) builds," he said.

"Now they have a new coach, they've got a new-look team and they are hungry - there is no doubt about that.

"But we just need to focus on our game and that will give us the best chance to perform."

Indeed Lockyer hinted that Queensland looked forward to testing Bennett's Midas touch - starting with his Dragons prodigy, rookie NSW pivot Jamie Soward.

"You can see what a good player he has become at the Dragons under Wayne," he said of Soward.

"He's playing some great football. There would have been an uproar if he wasn't there (in the NSW team).

"He's a player when the game is tight, he's a matchwinner.

"You test out any half no matter what game it is. We will do a bit of homework on him, look at the strengths he has very closely."

Lockyer also seemed surprised at the fallout over NSW's omission of Jarryd Hayne and Jamal Idris.

"I don't think it makes our job any easier," he said.

"The players they have selected are every good players - they are all suited to Origin football.

"There is going to be a bit of talk about it for the next seven or eight days (in NSW) probably but up here we will just focus on the team we've got and how we want to play."

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