Lockyer eyes Manly match despite surgery - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lockyer eyes Manly match despite surgery

By Wayne Heming 18/09/2011 05:26:40 PM Comments (0)

Darren Lockyer has always seemed super human.

Now he will attempt to prove it by leading Brisbane into Friday night's preliminarily final against an aggressive Manly five days after having three titanium plates surgically inserted into his face.

Lockyer underwent surgery at Brisbane's Wesley Private hospital on Sunday morning after collecting a stray knee from teammate Gerard Beale in Saturday's 13-12 golden point NRL semi-final win over St George Illawarra.

With a reputation as one of the toughest players in the game, the Broncos are adamant the retiring Lockyer is still a chance to face the Sea Eagles, who would be certain to target him if he does take the field.

"Darren had surgery at 8.30am (AEST) (Sunday) morning and had three metal plates inserted in his cheekbone," said Broncos coach Anthony Griffin, who denied he was playing ducks and drakes after the game when he played down the seriousness of Lockyer's facial injury.

"The doctor was really happy with the way the surgery went.

"Now it's just a matter of whether he can handle the pain and the swelling as to whether he plays this weekend."

Operating surgeon Dr John Arvier, who was assisted by orthopaedic specialist Dr Peter Meyers, told Griffin Lockyer's cheekbone was "solid" after three plates were implanted to stabilise the damaged area.

Lockyer's recovery over the next 48 hours will be critical to his chances of playing against Manly.

Speaking to the media on Sunday, Griffin said early indications were Lockyer's cheek structure was "very stable" and, if he played on Friday, the risk of further injury would be minimal.

The issue facing Lockyer is whether the swelling subsides and he can endure the pain well enough to play.

"I think he's a chance, I think he's 50-50," said Griffin when asked his gut feeling.

Lockyer could play in a gladiator-style facial helmet to help protect the cheek area.

The Brisbane, Queensland and Australian skipper has achieved some amazing feats during his 355-game NRL career - including landing the winning field goal after his injury in Saturday night's heart-stopping win over Wayne Bennett's Dragons.

But to undergo major facial surgery on Sunday and play against the most physically aggressive and intimidating side in the competition in a knockout game five days later, would rank among anything else he's done.

Rugby league has featured many acts of courage over the years; John Sattler playing much of the 1970 grand final against Manly with a broken jaw, Shane Webcke playing on with a broken arm and Andrew Johns pushing through the pain of a punctured lung in the 1997 preliminary final before backing up to lead the Knights to a grand final win over Manly.

Lockyer could join them this weekend.

"The doctors have stressed there's minimal risk of injury now. The hurdle for him is whether he can get past the operation," said Griffin.

"He could have played without it (surgery) but the medical experts felt this was the safest way to go, to get it fixed."

Griffin said the final decision, later in the week, would be solely Lockyer's to make.

"In the end it will be entirely up to Darren," he said

"He's played 355 games and he's coming to the end of his career.

"It'll be his call.

"We'll name him (on Tuesday) and get on with the week and if that doesn't happen we'll get on with that as well."

Youngsters Corey Norman and Ben Hunt are the likely contenders if Lockyer can't play.

Griffin didn't totally agree with Wayne Bennett's blunt call that Brisbane couldn't win the premiership without their inspirational skipper

"That's Wayne's opinion and he's probably right... most people would say that," said Griffin.

"There's 80 minutes of footy to play on Friday night and we've got other players who can do the job."

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