It was the outcome I expected, and yet, I still feel as though this hasn’t fully played out yet.
After getting a low altitude chopper ride down from Brisbane to Sydney yesterday to avoid issues with air pressure that can be an issue with his injury, Darren Lockyer has this morning ruled himself out of Friday nights semi finals against the manly Sea Eagles.
It was a decision that had to be made.
This is a very young Broncos team and as such, their mindset heading into a semi final needs to be considered. If Lockyer had pulled out at the last minute, it would have been a huge blow to the side. At least this way the Broncos get a few days of training with their in game lineup and the distractions are minimized.
I still feel as though that if Darren Lockyer wakes up on Friday and feels good, he will play. Even if he starts on the bench, it would not surprise me to see him take part on Friday nights game.
When you look at the injury he received on the weekend, for most of us, that knocks us down for a few weeks. Forget the pain and the swelling, your body just has a natural reaction to go into damage control and withdraw you from any general activity.
Then, almost immediately, he has surgery to insert three plates to hold his face together. If you give a healthy adult the anesthetic needed in a surgery like that, even without the surgery, that will knock you off kilter for a few days in itself.
Then, once Lockyer was out of surgery, they would have pumped him full of pain killers and anti-inflammatories. They will have eased his pain and kept the swelling down, but his body having to process all of them on top of what he has been through would have taken its toll.
Then there is the lack of sleep. After surgery sleep is something you have to take when you can get it. There will have been a few nights already that Lockyer has been up all night is agony.
After all of that, then there is the mental side of the whole injury…
We are naturally programmed to protect ourselves when injured. Its a message that comes from deep within our primitive brain. To ignore that, to walk out on a football field, to try and get past the idea that every face move object he going to his your still broken face thats only being held together with metal….imagine trying to do that.
Pictures a couple of days ago of Lockyer training with the Broncos in Brisbane astounded me.
Find a person that has facial fractures. Tell them you’re going to throw them a football…then watch their reaction. Darren Lockyer would have been having that same reaction going on in his head the whole time, and he ignored it!
So now the young Broncos side can focus on what they need to do to beat the Manly Sea Eagles. Darrel Lockyer and his availability is no longer an issue. That is a positive thing for this young team. Couple that will the return of Sam Thaiday, and today, the young Broncos lineup is in a must more stable frame of mind for Lockyers announcement.
Having said all that…
I would never rule Darren Lockyer out of a game of football. If he wakes up feeling great, I fully expect he will play.
I would guess they would play him off the bench to keep him out of the early grind in the game. The thing about Manly is, out wide Lockyer would have to deal with Steve Matai flying in from the centers. Even the threat of that would be an issue to his ability to be effective on the field. I would also guess that Des Hasler would have been getting Anthony Watmough to target individual defenders during training all week. Following them to both sides of the field and targeting them with his runs.
The Sea Eagles are a very physical side, Lockyer wouldn’t be able to hide.
We all know that Darren Lockyer could have a massive impact on a game and not be tackled once. Attack isn’t the issue, it is the work in defense he would be asked to get through that is the problem.
To look back and know that Darren Lockyer played the last 15 minutes of last years game is incredible. To know that he still managed to kick the game winning field goal is amazing.
He’s done enough.
Still, this is the great Darren Lockyer. He is a footballer. He is tough.
He may have ruled himself out, but I suspect that even as you read this, the great man is still gauging himself. Still hoping he gets to that point where he feels like he could make a difference to the Broncos performance.
The Brisbane Broncos will be a hard team to beat without Darren Lockyer in the side. If he runs out and takes his place in the side on Friday night, they will be impossible to beat.