Whether captaining Australia, Queensland or the Brisbane Broncos, Darren Lockyer did what good skippers do, led from the front.
Time and again in the championship minutes of a match, he broke opponents’ hearts by snatching victory from seemingly certain defeat by producing the winning play, be it a deft pass, a pin-point accurate kick or by running the ball himself. It got so that fans expected miracles from the diminutive, balding Locky, an inspiring captain with a dead-calm composure borne of supreme confidence in his own silky skill set.
Lockyer’s record as skipper is the grandest in rugby league. He captained Australia 38 times from 2003-11, Queensland 20 times between 2004-11 for 13 wins, and the Broncos won the premiership under his leadership in 2006.
His players swore by him. His Kangaroos, Queensland and Broncos teammate – and protector – Petero Civoniceva told this writer that Locky was the best captain he had ever played under in his 15-year career.
“He had steely determination, never panicked, never conceded defeat until the final whistle. He was beautiful to watch. He didn’t run so much as glide; his pass was the sweetest in the game; his kicks were perfect, he made the right decisions.
“He was also tough. No player was singled out for rough treatment as much as Darren as rival teams figured the best way to stop us was to hammer our playmaker… but he bounced right back up again to continue controlling the game. And, you know, he was the same modest, serious, self-effacing bloke as captain of Australia as he was when he played in the Broncos’ lower grades.”