NRL stars' tributes to Darren Lockyer
It's a massive week for one of the greats of rugby league, with Brisbane, Queensland and Australian Test captain Darren Lockyer set to bring up a new record with 350 career matches at first grade level.
To pay tribute to the man, NRL.com will run a series of features this week, including a look back at Lockyer's debut, Peter Sterling's analysis of what has made him so successful, David Middleton looking back at Locky's 10 best performances, a recap on his career year-by-year, and a feature on the two previous record-holders – Steve Menzies and Terry Lamb.
But to kick off NRL.com's "Lockyer week", we've turned to his fellow players. Here is what other NRL captains and stars have to say about the inspirational Broncos skipper.
Ben Hornby – Dragons
"Congratulations Darren for making such an historic milestone of 350 games. It's a huge achievement and I'm sure he is very proud of it. He's been a great player as well as a great leader for some time and I wish him all the best for his match.
"Darren is a player that everybody will miss when he does hang up his boots as he's still good enough to keep playing, but he's decided to call it a day and it's a good way to go out on top.
"He'll surely be missed by all rugby league supporters."
Alan Tongue – Raiders
"Congratulations on breaking the all time record for the most NRL games.
"You are a true testament to the game and have achieved all there is to offer. You will go down as one of the games greats and truly deserve all the accolades you have received and will receive in the future.
"All the best for the remainder of your career and in any future endeavours you undertake."
Simon Mannering – Warriors
"I've been lucky enough to play with and against some of the best players the game as seen. There haven't been many, if any, better than Darren.
"There's so much to admire him for. His ability and his endurance have been amazing but what I also like about him is the way he plays the game and carries himself on and off the field."
Kurt Gidley – Knights
"Congratulations to Darren Lockyer on breaking the Most Games Played record. You are a champion and this record couldn't go to someone more deserving or respected in the competition. It has been an honour to play alongside you at representative level and play a small part in your stellar career.
"Once again, congratulations!"
Cameron Smith – Storm
"As a kid growing up I idolised Darren Lockyer. He has been an unbelievable player for so long, and to perform at the level he does over so many years makes him, in my eyes, the greatest player to ever play the game.
"To get to know Darren both on and off the field has been a real privilege, he is an incredible leader and I have learnt so much just by spending the time I have with him.
"He is an ornament to the game and deserves to be held in the highest esteem possible given what he has done for the game."
Billy Slater – Storm
"I can't think of a more fitting player than Darren Lockyer to hold the games-played record for our game, he certainly deserves it. For Locky to play 17 years at the highest level, dominate the game in two different positions while enduring his fair share of injuries shows what determination and mental strength he has.
"Being a teammate of his at Origin and Test level showed me how hard he works and concentrates on the small and tough things in our game. He makes our game look simple, and that's what makes him one of the greatest players of all time."
Johnathan Thurston – Cowboys
"It's been an honour to play with Locky at a representative level for Queensland and Australia and also against him at a club level.
"His leadership has been an inspiration to me time and time again there's no doubt that the game is better because he has been part of it for such a long time.
"His presence on and off field is going to be sadly missed by his team mates, fans and the rugby league community in general.
"Thanks for the memories, Locky, and I'm looking forward to one last tour at the end of the year."
Matt Scott – Cowboys
"One of the big highlights of my career has been playing Test and Origin football with Locky.
He's one of the best players our game as seen and is also a champion bloke off the field as well.
"To play 350 NRL games is a great achievement and the fact he has maintained such a high standard throughout his career adds even more merit to his record."
Paul Gallen – Sharks
"Congratulations to Locky for what has been an exceptional career as a one-club man for the Broncos, and also in rep footy playing for and captaining Queensland and Australia.
"It has been a pleasure to play with him for the Kangaroos and to also play against him for the Sharks and NSW. I'm sure he will go down in history as one the true greats of the game."
Nathan Hindmarsh – Eels
"He's an awesome player and he's also a great team man.
"I've got some great memories of playing with Locky for Australia and one thing that always stood out was his leadership on and off the paddock and the way he could come up with a big play when we needed it most.
"He is a great ambassador for the game and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season and his life after football."