Hodges predicts vintage Lockyer
FOCUS: Crocs captain Russell Hinder only has eyes for a championship Breakers should only be commended further for their early season feats as they continued to lead the competition so convincingly despite the trot of losses.
‘‘ Every team is entitled to a hiccup,’’ Hinder said.
‘‘ They’ve had theirs and look, they are still four games ahead of everyone else. They will not let these losses fester into anything more than just a few losses.’’
As for Townsville’s position, it only gets better with every game. The 28-point win over Sydney set a new record run under Gleeson, having surpassed his previous best of seven wins from eight games set in 2009.
Hinder, however, said the f eeling i n t he group remained the same as in any other campaign.
‘‘ In the past three years I would put my hand on my heart and swear at this time of the season that we were on the way to a championship,’’ Hinder said.
In other news, teenage Croc Todd Blanchfield was yesterday cleared of a fractured pelvis.
While the diagnosis is still unclear, the Crocs yesterday reported that it could be s evere bruising and t he 19-year-old may return to action in a matter of weeks. STAR centre Justin Hodges s a y s B r i s b a n e s k i p p e r Darren Lockyer has recaptured the form and confidence to ensure he’s remembered as one of the greatest players of all time.
Hodges, who is battling a minor hamstring tear to be fit for the Broncos’ 2011 season opener against North Queensland next Friday, said he’d noticed a difference in his skipper at training that suggested the ‘‘ old Lockyer’’ was back.
Lockyer looked extremely sharp in his first trial appearance against Melbourne on Saturday night, carrying the football to the line and pushing into gaps.
‘‘ I think we’re starting to see a bit of the old Locky back,’’ said Hodges, who’s confident his latest injury won’t rule him out of his NRL c o meback a f t e r he missed the entire 2010 season.
‘‘ I think he’s more confident and starting to get over the knee injury he had a couple of years back ( 2007).
‘‘ He’s starting to run the ball again, not just passing the ball. You can see the new life in him.
‘‘ It’s going to be a big year for him and if he brings out the old Locky it’s going to be a big year for the Broncos as well.’’
Lockyer said earlier this week he’d found some of his old zip after rupturing his anterior cruciate late in 2007.
From all reports his knee was a ‘‘ mess’’ when he underwent a total reconstruction.
Despite turning 33 next month, Lockyer has committed himself to another representative season in which he could pass Allan Langer as Queensland’s most capped player and also overtake Kiwi great Ruben Wiki’s record 55 Test appearances..
‘‘ Locky is almost 33 but if you come and watch training he’s out there beating all the kids who are 18 and 19,’’ Hodges said.
‘‘ He’s miles ahead of some of them and it just shows he’s one of those guys who never dies and never quits.’’
Lockyer’s preparation is meticulous and he’s his own harshest critic.
The day he returned to training in January – two months behind his teammates – he was turning in the best times and leading a lot of the drills.
‘‘ Even when he had his knee, he did everything right, the extra little things, it makes him the special player he is,’’ Hodges said.
‘‘ He is going to go down as one of the greatest players of all time.’’
Hodges said he would not push t he l i mits t o pl ay against the Cowboys if his hamstring wasn’t right. He has only just recovered from a ruptured Achilles which prevented him playing at all last season.