No player was more important to the continued success of the Brisbane Broncos than standout fullback turned freakish five-eighth Darren Lockyer. Travis Meyn and Peter Badel look back at six of his best performances for the club. Sign up to Kayo now to watch the video and every game
Round 13, 1995, Parramatta Stadium
Brisbane Broncos 60 (Scott Blacker 2, Allan Langer 2, Michael Hancock, Glenn Lazarus, Julian O’Neill, Steve Renouf, Peter Ryan, Wendell Sailor, Darren Smith tries; O’Neill 8 goals) d Parramatta Eels 14 (Joe Bartolo, Michael Buettner tries; Lee Oudenryn 3 goals)
Darren Lockyer was just 18 when he made his first grade debut off the bench for the Broncos against Parramatta.
In typical Wayne Bennett style, there was a cloak of secrecy around Lockyer’s debut and he even played reserve grade on the same day.
Lockyer came off the bench for the Broncos in a team missing injured Australian five-eighth Kevin Walters.
The Broncos trounced the Eels 60-14, with Lockyer making an impressive debut despite not scoring in the 46-point rout.
He would remain in first grade from then on and go on to play a club record 355 games for the Broncos.
The secret debut at Parramatta Stadium was a sign of things to come for arguably the greatest player in Broncos history.
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Preliminary Final, 1998, QEII Stadium
Brisbane Broncos 46 (Darren Lockyer 3, Michael De Vere 2, Darren Smith 2, Wendell Sailor, Brad Thorn tries; Lockyer 4, De Vere goals) d Sydney City Roosters 18 (Jack Elsegood, Brad Fittler, Matt Sing tries; Ivan Cleary 2, Andrew Walker goals)
Lockyer was an established player by 1998, having won the Super League premiership the previous year.
But it was the 1998 preliminary final thrashing of the Roosters where he announced himself as a genuine star in the making.
Lockyer scored three tries in the 28-point thumping of the Roosters to book the Broncos a berth in the 1998 grand final.
Kevin Walters said Lockyer took his game to another level that year.
“In the big moments the great players stand up, they want the ball in their hands and make things happen,” he said.
“Gorden Tallis was another one. They’re great players and Locky was in that category.
“We had a great side and mentality that year. We wanted it big time after the two competitions came back together.
“We had a really good side. Everything was going in the right direction.”
The Broncos thrashed the Roosters then thumped the Bulldogs 38-12 in the grand final.
Darren Lockyer celebrates with John Plath (left) and Steve Renouf.Source:News Corp Australia
Round 23, 1999, Sydney Football Stadium
Brisbane Broncos 9 (Shaun Berrigan, Ben Walker tries; Darren Lockyer field goal) d Sydney City Roosters 8 (Luke Ricketson try, Ivan Cleary 2 goals)
After winning premierships in the previous two seasons, the Broncos were slow out of the blocks in 1999.
They lost their first five games and only boasted one win after eight rounds.
Darren Lockyer celebrates scoring the winning field goal.Source:News Corp Australia
But they then went on a 10-game winning streak, with Lockyer’s form playing a big part on that run.
The 10th win in that period was a gripping 9-8 victory against the Roosters where Lockyer iced victory with a field goal.
Walters said Lockyer was starting to believe he was one of the game’s most influential players.
“He was coming right into his own as a player,” he said.
“He debuted in 1995 and had five years in the NRL and really came alive.
“He was a captain here and a great player. He sits alongside the great players at this club like Wally Lewis, Gene Miles and Alfie (Allan Langer).
“They have won so many games on the back of pure skill that not many players in our game have had.”
Round 12, 2001, Canberra Stadium
Canberra Raiders 26 (Brett Finch 2, Mark McLinden, Ruben Wiki tries; Clinton Schifcofske 5 goals) draw Brisbane Broncos 26 (Darren Lockyer 2, Petero Civoniceva, Luke Priddis, Chris Walker tries; De Vere 3 goals)
Lockyer saved the Broncos on many occasions and this was another example.
In a gripping contest at Canberra Stadium, Lockyer scored two tries to help the Broncos salvage a 26-all draw against a confident Raiders team.
The Raiders led 26-10 with 20 minutes to go before the Broncos conjured a famous comeback to snag a draw.
“Locky never got flustered, he always had a cool head,” said former Broncos captain Gorden Tallis.
“He was always so accommodating when he played with you. He wanted to bring out the best in his teammates.
“He moved to five-eighth and was criticised. But he hung in there, improved his defence and to play the way he did was amazing.
“Locky in the last 10 minutes outshoots nearly everyone who has played NRL.
“To control the back-end of a game of footy like Darren Lockyer did…he was one of the best under fatigue.
“That’s what made Locky so great. He was always there. He sensed the moment. He had so much time.
“He wanted to win more than most players who have ever taken the footy field. He is always around the picture.”
Round 12, 2008, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Broncos 30 (Denan Kemp 4, Justin Hodges, David Stagg tries; Michael Ennis 3 goals) d Parramatta Eels 26 (Krisnan Inu 2, Luke Burt, Feleti Mateo, Joel Reddy tries; Burt 3 goals)
Winger Denan Kemp scored four tries in this remarkable Broncos victory but he wouldn’t have got there without the help of Lockyer.
It was a famous last-play option from Lockyer to snag victory in this game, with a clever kick to a flying Kemp in the corner snatching a thrilling after-the-siren win at Suncorp Stadium.
Former Broncos forward Corey Parker said Lockyer always wanted the ball when the game was on the line.
“You talk about the game’s greatest, the greatest players in the game are the ones that want their hand on the ball in the pivotal point,” he said.
“When a decision needs to be made that’s when those guys step up. Locky did it time and time again in his career.
“He demanded excellence around him and on the training paddock. That transferred to the field.
“He would be the one practising his short kicks and passing game. That had a flow-on effect to the guys around him. You didn’t want to let him down.”
Semi-Final, 2011, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Broncos 13 (Dale Copley, Ben Te’o tries; Corey Parker 2 goals; Darren Lockyer field goal) d St George Illawarra 12 (Darius Boyd, Adam Cuthbertson tries; Jamie Soward 2 goals)
It would ultimately prove to be Lockyer’s last game and what a way it was to bow out, albeit through injury.
In a gripping semi-final, Lockyer stepped up to the plate with a shattered cheekbone to deliver the Broncos a golden-point win against former coach Wayne Bennett’s Dragons.
It was the stuff fairytales are made of, although he would never play another game after being ruled out for the remainder of the finals.
“I will never forget it,” said current Broncos captain Alex Glenn.
“He is the best player I have ever played with, hands down.
“We knew he was retiring that whole year and we wanted to send him out on the best note possible by getting to the grand final and going the whole way. We didn’t get there.
Darren Lockyer celebrates Brisbane’s win over the Dragons in 2011. Picture: Jono SearleSource:News Limited
“I still give Gerard Beale grief about breaking his cheekbone. I could hear Darren saying ‘my ball, my ball’ but Gerard still jumped up and cleaned him up with his knee.
“To see Locky finish that game shows the strength in him and how much playing for the Broncos meant for him. He didn’t want to go off with an injury. He wanted to go out on his terms.
“To seal the game with a field goal…the ground was packed and it went off. We all piled on to Locky and I felt sorry for him because he probably couldn’t breathe.
“We saw it like a grand final win. It was his last game and he sealed the deal with a clutch field goal. I got to carry him off.”
And that was the end of one of the great Broncos careers.
Originally published asThe Locky era: Six of the best from a Broncos legend
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