Gillett is NRL final standby for Lockyer - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gillett is NRL final standby for Lockyer

By Wayne Heming 19/09/2011 03:59:23 PM Comments (0)

Matt Gillett will face the biggest challenge of his career if Brisbane captain Darren Lockyer fails in his brave bid to play Friday's NRL preliminary final against Manly.

Broncos young guns Corey Norman and Ben Hunt were tagged as possible replacements for Lockyer, who had three plates inserted in the left cheek fractured during the 13-12 golden point semi-final win over the Dragons on Saturday.

But coach Anthony Griffin revealed to AAP on Monday he would play gifted utility Gillett at five-eighth should Lockyer be unable to play.

Hunt already plays a key bench role, backing up hooker Andrew McCullough, which Griffin would be hesitant to disrupt at such a crucial time.

Lockyer plans to train on Tuesday with the intention of playing against rugged Manly with a place in the grand final at stake.

A decision on him could be made as early as Wednesday to minimise disruption to the team's preparations.

Last year's NRL rookie of the year, Gillett was a standout performer at five eighth in the 2009 Queensland Cup playing for Norths Devils.

He burst onto the NRL scene in 2010 with 12 tries and has six tries this season despite missing several games through injury.

Griffin believes Gillett's 105kg frame will be needed against Manly's powerful left side attack.

"If Locky doesn't play, Matt will wear the number six jumper," said Griffin.

"He's strong, he's good on his feet, can defend, has good hands and he can also kick.

"We'll definitely need his size against Manly who are very aggressive in attack."

While the swelling to Lockyer's left cheek had lessened on Monday, the champion five-eighth still had a long way to go to be cleared to play what could be his last NRL match as he heads into retirement.

He has 48 hours to satisfy Griffin he can deal with the pain and discomfort and handle everything Manly will throw at him at the SFS on Friday night.

Lockyer showed great courage to continue in obvious pain from the injury suffered in the 70th minute against the Dragons and kick the winning field goal 13 minutes later.

However, Lockyer defends on the right side which this week puts him in the path of Manly's hard-hitting human missile Steve Matai.

Lockyer can also expect to be tested by the likes of NSW hardman Anthony Watmough if he ventures through the ruck.

"Locky will train tomorrow, he wants to have a normal week," said Griffin.

Asked if he expected Manly to target his star playmaker after their coach Des Hasler declared Lockyer "fair game".

"If he's out there, I agree with their coach that he's fair game," said Griffin.

"It's a final and we're all trying to get to the last week.

"Locky understands those risks too.

"If he's out there he's fair game."

Lockyer's other hurdle is just getting to Sydney after his surgery on Sunday.

"Obviously it's advisable not to fly with a facial surgery," Griffin said.

"We'll worry about that problem later in the week.

"If he comes down later or we have to drive him down, we'll work that out."

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