Lockyer's record list growing by the game - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lockyer's record list growing by the game

Wayne Heming 24/05/2011 03:58:38 PM Comments (0)

He's not yet an immortal and he doesn't have a statue at Suncorp Stadium like King Wally.

But Darren Lockyer will walk away from rugby league with so many records that he'll surely hold a record for having the most records.

At Test level he's played more games than any other player, scored more tries, led his country more times and to more wins than any player in history.

All going well, the kid from Roma who always played the Wally Lewis role in backyard games with his brothers, will hang up his boots after this season having played more NRL games than anyone in history.

It's the same story with Origin - or it will be if he plays all three games this year.

If he does, Lockyer will not only break Origin's all-time appearance record but also, along with Johnathan Thurston, take over from legends Wally Lewis and Allan Langer as Queensland's most successful halves if they can repeat last year's 3-0 drubbing of the Blues.

Lockyer and Thurston have won 10 of their 15 Origins together at 66.7 per cent success rate and three more wins would take them to 72.2 per cent, passing Langer and Lewis who won nine of their 13 games at 69.2 per cent.

Lockyer will draw level with Langer on 34 Origin appearances at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night, starting his final campaign after making his first appearance at fullback in 1998 when Langer was man-of-the-match.

He can take the record in Sydney next month at ANZ Stadium before returning home for an emotion-charged farewell at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium on July 6.

The achievement of overtaking Langer should not be underestimated.

Langer is arguably Queensland's favourite Origin player, appearing in 34 games between 1987 and 2002, with his answering of an SOS from coach Wayne Bennett to fly back from the UK to lead the Maroons to a series-deciding 40-14 win in Sydney in 2001 part of Queensland folklore.

Lockyer was man of the match in that game.

He played played seven Origins with Langer but he was always at fullback, not alongside at five-eighth.

By the time Lockyer moved to five-eighth in 2004, Langer had retired.

"It would have been great (to have played inside him)," Langer told AAP.

"I played inside some great five-eighths in Wally and Kevvie (Kevin Walters) and I think we would have complimented each other.

"He and Thurston take the pressure of each other, they're both match winners and team players.

"Darren is just a special player. You don't mind (the appearance record) going to a player of his calibre.

"Like all great players he's going to be sadly missed, not just as a player but as a leader. The aura he had around players who loved playing with him will also be missed."

Lockyer has gone to great pains to stress his final series should not be about him.

But in their hearts, the Queensland players to a man want to make sure they send him out a winner.

"We all know it's Locky's last series but nobody has sat us down as said: 'hey, we have to win this for Locky'," said hooker Cameron Smith, the man most likely to take over as Queensland and Australian captain.

"Locky will go out and do his job and he'd want the other 16 blokes to do that as well.

"He's always been a great leader on the field. Just watching how he handles himself in pressure situations has helped me.

"How many times has Locky come up with a big play in Origin to get us out of trouble?

"He's the type of leader who, when you need him to stand up, does it 99 times out of 100.

"That's one of the best qualities you can have as a captain or a leader of men, to be there or do something to change a match."

Smith hoped the Thurston-Lockyer partnership would be fondly remembered given what the pair had achieved.

"They've won five Origin series," he said.

"Wally and Alf are legends of State of Origin. They won a lot of games for Queensland when they probably shouldn't have, when NSW had very strong teams.

"I'm a bit biased because I play with these boys but I think they should be remembered.

"I think they've won more Origins together than Wally and Alf. Those guys were my heroes but Darren and JT have done something very special."

Veteran forward Petero Civoniceva, who's played more Origins with Lockyer than anyone else, was not hiding from the significance of the occasion.

"It's an end of an era seeing such an amazing leader and a great player call it quits," said Civoniceva, who also played most of his record 45 Tests with Lockyer.

Asked if there would ever be another Darren Lockyer, Civoniceva said: "that's a tough one"

"I guess when Wally retired there were a lot of questions asked then.

"That's the great thing about our game. We're always discovering amazing talent.

"Who knows? It might be a long time or it could happen in the next few years, I'm not sure."

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