Sterling Gold: The real Darren Lockyer
In a final season of record-breaking achievements Darren Lockyer will reach the summit this Friday night against the Cowboys.
Whilst his incredible effort of playing more Origin and Test football than anyone speaks for itself, it will be surpassing both Steve Menzies and Terry Lamb at club level that in my opinion will eclipse all else.
The mental and physical battle that goes into racking up 350 first grade appearances over 17 seasons is difficult to comprehend and to be still playing some of his best football is a testament in itself.
Leading into Friday night's all-Queensland affair has been very much about such statistics and understandably so, but I thought I would go behind the scenes and briefly explore the man himself. A "60 seconds with Locky" if you will.
For example, did you know that his favourite holiday destination is New York and that his choice of drink is a "good red wine"?
Here is an insight into the great man that the stats won't tell you.
First job: An apprentice carpenter when 15 years old.
Favourite player: Wally Lewis – for what he did for Queensland rugby league.
Favourite movie: Braveheart.
Favourite song: 'Human' by The Killers.
Car: Drives an Audi Q5.
Started playing: At nine years of age as a speedy centre.
Memory of first-grade debut: Prop Glenn Lazarus coming over after the win and saying "it's not that hard is it young fella?"
Unfortunately for us Parramatta supporters it all began for Darren against the Eels in round 13 of 1995. He came off the bench as an 18-year-old five-eighth and was part of a 60-14 victory.
Superstition: Always puts wedding ring in mouthguard case before playing.
Worst habit: Forever leaving dirty clothes in training bag.
Favourite other sport: Cricket.
Best advice: Came from Wayne Bennett – "Nothing comes easy and hard work gets rewarded."
Favourite sound: The roar that comes from Suncorp Stadium. Least favourite: Car horns.
Where did you meet wife and how did you propose: She was working as a physio and he proposed "nervously".
Darren married Loren Pollock on October 27, 2007. Coincidentally the same day that great rival and friend Andrew Johns also tied the knot.
The Lockyers became proud parents in April 2010 of baby boy Sonny James.
Last thing you do before taking the field: Talks to the young mascot about what they need to do.
Fears: Doesn't like spiders!
Worst injury: Knee reconstruction.
Describe Wayne Bennett in three words: Caring, competitor, discipline. Anthony Griffin: Dry, effective, winner.
Most embarrassing moment: Ran back on at half-time of an Origin game and went all the way down to the dead-ball line at the other team's end.
What else are you good at: Not much.
Favourite try: 2006 Tri- Nations winner.
This try was scored in the 87th minute after the Kangaroos and Kiwis had been locked 12-all at the end of regulation time. With the series on the line Johnathan Thurston made the break and found Darren supporting back on the inside to cross next the posts.
It is one of 34 tries that he has scored for Australia which puts him on the top of list above an illustrious group that includes Ken Irvine, Reg Gasnier, Bob Fulton, Mal Meninga and Graeme Langlands.
The final question that I posed was, when Darren finally hangs up his boots at the end of the season, what would he like written as his rugby league epitaph?
In typical unassuming fashion he said he would like to be remembered as someone who "tried to compete every week and gave his best".
After such a stellar career that exuded humility, selflessness and class, that is the least that will be written.