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Locky and Benny will always have respect

Wayne Heming 12/09/2011 05:42:01 PM Comments (0)

Had you dared suggest to retiring skipper Darren Lockyer five years ago he'd play his last game for Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium against Wayne Bennett he probably would have laughed at you.

But following some Alfred Hitchcock-style twists in recent weeks it's come down to exactly that in the Broncos' semi-final against St George Illawarra on Saturday night with Lockyer's longtime coach and confidant Bennett busily plotting how to ruin the star five-eighth's fairytale finish.

Lockyer has been the guest of honour at a number of farewell parties already in recent weeks.

But Saturday's clash be the very last time he steps out on home turf in Broncos colours.

"The only one thing certain is that this will be my last game at Suncorp Stadium and Wayne is going to be there," Lockyer told AAP on Monday.

"What makes it different (for me) is Wayne will be the coach of the team I am playing against, not for.

"Five years ago, that would have been pretty laughable."

Bennett and Lockyer are the best in the business at camouflaging their emotions.

But given their history and the success they've shared, including four premierships, it's an occasion that will, at some stage, hit a chord with both men.

"Just because it's St George and Wayne, to me that doesn't place any more emphasis or make it feel any different," said Lockyer.

"This is a big game whether it be the Dragons or Tigers or Manly, whoever, it's a game you know you have to win to advance to the next week to move a step closer to the ultimate prize.

"It doesn't have any extra meaning to it because of the people involved."

Should Bennett's men force a premature end to his farewell tour, which ideally would culminate at the grand final in Sydney on October 2, Lockyer says he'll walk without hard feelings.

"There's always going to be that respect for one another," declared Lockyer who credits Bennett for shaping his career on the field and his life off it.

Bennett was Lockyer's only club coach until his disappointing exit from Brisbane at the end of 2008, when relationships with some powerbrokers soured.

After delivering long-suffering Dragons fans a premiership last year, Bennett will take on a new challenge next year coaching Newcastle.

"We talk every now and then but we don't really talk footy," said Lockyer of their enduring relationship.

"There's always going to be that mutual respect while he's coaching and I'm on the footy field.

"I think we'll have more contact once I'm finished playing."

Pundits who declared the Dragons unbeatable early in the season are now Bennett's critics, doubting the super coach can go back-to-back following the Dragons late season wobble into the finals.

If there's anyone who knows his competitive nature and is qualified to talk about Bennett's genius when his back is to the wall, it's Lockyer.

"The one thing I know about Wayne Bennett is he will have the Dragons ready to play," said Lockyer.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2020 AAP

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