Hodges pre­dicts vintage Lock­yer

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

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.

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