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Queensland skipper Darren Lockyer says he is confident of overcoming a back injury in time to playing in the second State of Origin series rugby league match against NSW in Sydney next Wednesday.
Lockyer says he feared he may have broken a rib when he copped a knee in the back during the Broncos' NRL loss to St George Illawarra last Friday night. Lockyer will be carefully monitored until the weekend when he is expected to start full training with the team.
Elsewhere in Origin, New South Wales forward Willie Mason said he is confident he'll be fit to play in next Wednesday's State of Origin rugby league match against Queensland at Telstra Stadium.
Mason hasn't played since tearing his hamstring in the first match of the Origin series but says he'll be right to resume full training early next week. The Blues have no other injury concerns heading into the must-win clash.
The decorated 18-season rugby league career of Jason Smith, the NRL's oldest player, is finally coming to an end.
The 35-year-old North Queensland playmaker has announced he will retire at the end of the season. Since his debut in 1990, Smith has had stints with Canterbury, Parramatta, Hull (UK Super League) and Canberra before moving to the Cowboys for this season.
He won a premiership with Canterbury in 1995 and has also played 16 Tests for Australia and 16 State Of Origin games for Queensland.
The Gold Coast Titans have signed Melbourne forward Ian Donnelly in a mid-season transfer to help solve the NRL club's front-row crisis.
The 26-year-old Donnelly will fill a hole left by season-ending injuries to Titans props Michael Henderson and Brad Meyers. Donnelly will join the Titans immediately and he's also contracted to the club for the 2008 season.