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Lockyer's health comes first: Griffin

By Wayne Heming 19/09/2011 04:44:23 PM Comments (0)

Furious Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin has slammed suggestions the NRL club had put winning ahead of the health of retiring skipper Darren Lockyer.

Lockyer is set to train on Tuesday, 50 hours after having three metal plates inserted in his smashed left cheekbone.

Despite the likelihood the injury will be a target for Manly defenders in Friday night's preliminary final, Lockyer has told Griffin he wants to play.

The NRL's chief medical officer Ron Muratore claimed it was putting too much pressure on Lockyer to leave him with the final call, while other medical experts questioned the club's duty of care - a situation which irked Griffin.

"The only thing I am cranky about is people telling us how to look after our players," a fired-up Griffin said on Monday.

"Darren's in a delicate part of his career, we're playing a final and we want to give him a chance to play if that's at all possible.

"I know there's been some reports in the papers this morning, a lot of people trying to get their name in the paper with advice.

"This club has been at the forefront of best practice in how we look after our players and we're doing the same now with Darren.

"The way we've handled our players this year - we've handled them better than any other club.

"Nobody needs to talk to us or give us advice about best practice."

Griffin's remarks stem from his decision to rest his stars during a heavy representative season, a call for which he received plenty of flak at the time.

The move has paid off over the back end of the season with the Broncos peeling off eight straight wins, the club's array of representative stars looking fresh at the right time of the year.

Griffin said the club had listened to medical advice and spoken to Lockyer about the risks associated with playing so soon after surgery.

Former Australian team doctor Nathan Gibbs has warned Lockyer there's the potential for him to lose his eyesight playing so soon after facial surgery.

"He is risking his eyesight by playing before his cheekbone is healed, because that exposes the orbital bone and the orbital bone is what keeps your eye in place," said Dr Gibbs.

Griffin was livid at the suggestion the Broncos would put any of their players at unnecessary risk.

"We're not going to make him (Lockyer) do something he doesn't want to do," Griffin said.

"We understand the risks, we've been advised of the risks and in the end, we'll look after the player as best we can.

"Darren will be given every opportunity to be protected and in the end it will be his decision.

"They're unusual circumstances I admit but he is in an unusual part of his career at the moment as well.

"He's coming to the end of his career and the mind is a strong thing some times.

"If Locky thinks he can get out there and play and he can convince us that he wants to do that and we all understand the risk, then we'll look at that."

Lockyer has told Griffin he doesn't want his injury situation to disrupt the team's preparations, with a decision likely to be made before the team's final training run in Sydney on Thursday morning.

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