One of Brisbane’s best is to firmly throw in the towel and Darren Lockyer fans around the world are sure to miss their idol on the field. After rejecting an offer from the Widnes Vikings to join the Super League, Lockyer announced his retirement from the National Rugby League and 2011 will be his last year. This fall, one of the most illustrious races in recent English rugby history officially comes to an end.
Originally from Brisbane, Lockyer made his inaugural debut at age 18 in the NRL with the Broncos starting off the bench in a massive 60-14 victory over Parramatta in the 13th round. Having previously played rugby in cities without Australian rules, the young Lockyer was recognized for his great potential in the sport when he won the club’s rookie of the year award. Fast forward to the present and the legendary Broncos captain now has 34 test scores and 54 test caps to his credit, both groundbreaking Australian records that every other player in the league cannot match. If there is one last hurray the 34-year-old giant wants to deliver to his beloved country, it is to be anointed as the captain of the Australia team that would compete against England, Wales and New Zealand in the Four Nations series. Closing the curtains on a successful season in the league with a final international victory is a great way to make more history one last time.
While it’s probably tempting to designate the NRL as the penultimate stage in one’s career in the game by jumping into the Super League as the season finale of the Swan Song career, Lockyer remains safe and at peace with his choice. Although he plans to take a year off from the game, Lockyer won’t be far behind the NRL. In fact, league insiders look forward to his return as coach of the Brisbane Broncos soon after. His former Great Britain coach, Brian Noble, regards the thirty-something as an icon, a legend and the cream of the crop. He also adds that Lockyer’s level of performance has propelled the game to greater heights and that Lockyer himself was the difference between losing and winning. Noble also ends on an affectionate note saying that Lockyer is such an amazing guy that no one could really hate him.
Darren Lockyear has managed three teams and led the Australian national team, the Queensland State of Origin team and the Brisbane Broncos as their captain to victories in their respective competitions. In fact, one of the highlights of his career was when he captained all three teams in 2006 and all three finished as champions at the end of the season. Lockyer’s phenomenal streak continued in 2009 when he broke the record for most test matches and in 2010 the highest score of attempts for the Australian national team. Darren Lockyer is considered by many to be the best defender to ever play.