Lockyer 'feeling better than ever'

Queensland legend Darren Lockyer will be online from 12.00 midday Thursday 20th May (AEST) to chat LIVE with NRL.com users.

This is your chance to ask Locky the hard questions about next week’s State of Origin opener in Sydney.

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Maroons captain Darren Lockyer says he is feeling better than ever heading into this year’s State of Origin series, dispelling ongoing speculation that 2010 will be his final year in a Queensland jersey.

The veteran of 325 first grade games and 30 appearances for his state was tipped to call it quits on his representative career this season after a long and injury-plagued 2009 but told NRL.com today that he could be back again next year should the coming months go according to plan.

“The body is in good nick this year – probably the best it’s been in for a number of years,” Lockyer said. “That’s given me a bit of confidence heading into this year’s series.

“I think it goes hand in hand. If you’re physically in good shape, it helps mentally.

“Probably last year I was physically out of shape, with a few injuries, and it just wore me down a bit trying to get it right.

“This year, fingers crossed, things are looking a lot better.”

Lockyer said that although his future at rep level had weighed heavily on his mind this year, he was reluctant to jump the gun.

“I’m someone that lives in the present – I don’t really plan too far ahead,” he said.

“In my mind this year could be my last series – but I don’t want to officially close the door on it either.”

Certainly it would be hard for the veteran playmaker to call it quits on a Queensland side destined to go down as the greatest of all time.

Having already won a record four consecutive series, they are favoured to make it five this year against a New South Wales squad still trying to get the mix right.

The Maroons have no such problem.

“Stability helps,” Lockyer said. “I wouldn’t say it’s the difference between winning and losing but it helps with the preparation when you come back into camp.

“Our processes are the same.

“But it’s also important that we forget about what we’ve achieved in the past, start again and try to win the 2010 series.

“It’s pretty simple.”

However, Lockyer said that Queensland would face a new challenge this year after the Blues produced an emphatic display to win Game Three in 2009.

Having been comprehensively outplayed in the first two games, NSW reverted to a more physically confronting style in the dead rubber and have stuck with a similar squad this time around.

“They were quite convincing winners in Game Three last year and they’ve rewarded a lot of those guys with another jersey,” he said.

“There are a few new guys there but they’ve all got something in common in that they’re all big, strong lads.

“They’ve obviously gone for their size so I don’t think their way of thinking will change too much from that last game.”

Lockyer said he was pleased to have giant winger Israel Folau – who is weighing up offers from the Broncos, rugby union and AFL – back in the Queensland side after he was controversially omitted from the Australian side for the one-off Test against New Zealand two weeks ago.

“I think initially he would have been disappointed not to be picked [for Australia] but he got over it pretty quick and he has been rewarded by being here for Queensland,” Lockyer said.

“He has had a few distractions around him but he has been very mature in his approach to his game.

“He’s been able to forget about everything that’s happening around him and he’s been playing well.”