Broncos captain Darren Lockyer is a coach’s dream, with his past club, state and national coaches agreeing there is much to admire about the player who will celebrate a special milestone tonight.
In a week of tributes on NRL.com to mark the Brisbane, Queensland and Australian Test captain’s record-breaking 350 appearances at first-grade level against the Cowboys in Townsville, we spoke to a selection of his club, state and national coaches.
Here is what they had to say about the inspirational Broncos, Queensland and Australian skipper.
Anthony Griffin (current Broncos coach)
“He is a good bloke. That is the reason why everyone is so happy to see the achievements he is realising. It is the person he is – everyone in the game is happy for him simply because of the type of person he is.”
Wayne Bennett (former Broncos, Queensland and Australian coach; current Dragons coach)
“There is not much I can say about Darren that hasn’t already been said. You just have to watch him in action at club, State of Origin and international level to understand his abilities and why he has reached this milestone.”
Mal Meninga (current Queensland Origin coach)
“The really great ones carry a humility and resolve with them always. Darren’s attitude to life reflects his outstanding abilities on the field and more importantly his leadership instinct.
“He is the consummate professional who has a yesteryear, fun quality about him. The game will sorely miss his on-field skill.”
Michael Hagan (former Queensland Origin coach)
“The thing that stands out among all the achievements and his talent is his durability. It’s remarkable the amount of games he has played at every level. His consistency in playing to a standard, whether it’s for the Broncos, Queensland or Australia is a real strength.
“From a coaching point of view, delivering the same things week in, week out. He’s a guy from that category of perfect, highly competitive, his preparation is always impeccable, and he carries and handles himself so well at all levels.
“He is quite measured in what he says and very unassuming. He doesn’t put himself on a pedestal. He likes to include everyone, which is a reflection of his great captaincy and leadership qualities.”
Mark Murray (former Queensland Origin coach)
"Darren Lockyer has many attributes that have confirmed him as a great rugby league player, but the thing that I admire most has been his ability to overcome the fact that he was never naturally built to survive the physicality of our game. Despite this setback, he has thrived through his wonderful talents and mental toughness to become the 'humble champion' of his generation.
“Most first grade appearances of all-time, coupled with his outstanding representative record, places him favourably with the elite that have played before him and will definitely challenge the best of the future."
Tim Sheens (Australian coach; current Wests Tigers coach)
“You are a great player and a quality person, a real champion. Congratulations on all you have achieved in your career – it has been an honour to work with you and coach against you. “
Chris Anderson (former Australian coach)
“It has been a fantastic career. My involvement with him was enjoyable. He never let the team down. It was a credit to his preparation and the ability he had on the field.
“To stay at one club for that long is a fantastic feat. I can’t see anyone beating that record of appearances.”