Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Brisbane Bronco coach Wayne Bennett is set to pitch Darren Lockyer into a new attacking five-eighth role to ignite the Broncos next season. Brisbane staggered into the National Rugby League finals this year after dropping their last nine premiership games in a row.
Their halves were a constant problem last season, youngster Brett Seymour injured and Ben Ikin often playing on one leg and missing too many games.
Bennett has resisted calls in the past to switch Lockyer from fullback to five-eighth, the indications are he will compromise next season.
The plan is to use Lockyer in his customary fullback role in defence so he can continue running the ball back at the defence which he does better than any other player.
In attack he will slot in at five-eighth to utilise his exceptional vision, kicking and brilliant passing.
New Kiwi recruit Motu Tony would alternate with Lockyer between fullback and five-eighth. It would be the best of both worlds for Brisbane who would need to make some minor positional adjustments.
Origin halfback Shaun Berrigan would revert to hooker, allowing boom youngster Seymour his shot at the No.7 jumper which he's been groomed for since Allan Langer retired.
Brisbane need a quality halves combination and while Casey McGuire continued to improve last year to the point where he could play five-eighth, he offers more to the side as a specialist utility.
All Bennett would say about Lockyer's role next season was he had a "new challenge" for the game's best player.
"He can get better .... it's scary really," said Bennett.
Lockyer, meanwhile, was not worried that bookmakers were quoting Brisbane at their longest ever odds to win the premiership after their poor finish to the 2002 season.
"I'm not really worried about it, I know the side we've got is capable of going all the way," said Lockyer.