Lockyer opens lid on Broncos - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lockyer opens lid on Broncos

By Wayne Heming and David Beniuk 26/08/2011 05:26:14 PM Comments (0)

Rugby league great Darren Lockyer believes Super League spoiled the sport and the Broncos botched their handling of coaches Wayne Bennett and Craig Bellamy.

The retiring Test captain lifts the lid on some of league's best guarded secrets in his autobiography to be released on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old made his debut two seasons before the split competitions of 1997 but just as the Super League war between News Limited and the Australian Rugby League was erupting.

Lockyer says, with the benefit of hindsight, he would have thought twice about signing with Super League.

"I am fairly confident that if the same offer was made to me today I would strongly oppose any action or movement which even had the potential to result in a situation where clubs might end up splitting from the main competition," he writes.

"Having said that, given my club had aligned itself with Super League it would have been difficult not to support that in reality."

Lockyer's comments pertinently come amid reports that league's new independent commission continues to be stalled by negotiations over a non-compete clause to prevent News starting a rival competition.

"For all the good intentions of the men responsible for Super League, and there is no doubt there was merit in their criticism of the ARL ... the fact is, the end result was the game of rugby league and the NRL brand suffered damage so significant that its impact continues to haunt the NRL in 2011."

Lockyer laments Brisbane's treatment of his mentor Bennett, the club's legendary coach of 21 years who delivered six titles to the Broncos before leaving in 2008 and winning the 2010 premiership with St George Illawarra.

"What he has done since his departure has, in my mind, ended any lingering doubts anyone may have had about his position atop the list of the game's greatest coaches," the Brisbane skipper writes. "He is it. End of discussion.

"Wayne's leaving, to me, was a tragedy.

"From top to bottom it was handled badly and there is no question he deserved better than he got, that is both off the field and on it.

"As always, though, Wayne did the best with the cards he was dealt and proved a lot of people wrong."

Lockyer suggests some ill-timed words from a Broncos official may have ruined any chance of former Bennett assistant Bellamy taking the top job from 2009, the year the Melbourne boss won a second grand final.

"To this day I am still not sure where it all went wrong, because as I understood things, the Bellyache (Bellamy) to Brisbane deal was done," Lockyer writes.

"In early April the word I was being told was it was all over bar the shouting and that Craig was just being careful with managing his exit from Melbourne.

"What sparked the about face which saw him sign a five-year extension to remain at the Storm on April 17, I am still unsure.

"I have heard Craig was upset with the way he was spoken to by one Broncos official involved in the interview process and reportedly being given an ultimatum about how and when things would be announced."

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