25 hours ago
Determined not to be a liability, Australian skipper Darren Lockyer has ruled himself out of Friday night's Centenary Test and most likely the opening game of Origin series due to ongoing complications with his surgically repaired right knee.
Lockyer said he knew just five minutes into Saturday night's NRL win over Wests Tigers that his Test hopes were dashed with the Brisbane ace to undergo another bout of surgery and an extended period on the sidelines.
He was due to fly back to Brisbane in Sunday night where he would meet with doctors on Monday and, while he was keen to get started on his rehabilitation as soon as possible, admitted the Origin opener at ANZ Stadium on May 21 was looking unlikely.
"Origin one's definitely doubtful, but again I want to move on this as quick as I can so going home tonight and arranging a time for the doctor to have a look at it is what's important to me at the moment," Lockyer said.
"I would have loved to have been a part of the (Test) but with my knee I wouldn't have been able to put any preparation in with the team.
"Then going into the game not knowing if it would hold up, to be honest I probably would have been more of a liability.
"I probably could get through the game ... but getting through the game wasn't a guarantee. It's just not worth the risk, it's such a big game."
Kangaroos coach Ricky Stuart confirmed Greg Bird would move from lock to five-eighth, where he played when Australia beat New Zealand 58-0 in Wellington last October.
Melbourne backrower Michael Crocker was surprisingly brought into the squad ahead of 18th man Anthony Laffranchi, Stuart saying he would wait until later in the week before deciding who would start in the back row.
The loss of Lockyer is a bitter blow not only to the Australians but also to the contest, which has already been robbed of New Zealand playmaker Benji Marshall with a knee injury.
With just over 6000 tickets sold for the match, Lockyer's withdrawal was the last thing organisers needed as they mark the 100th anniversary of the first Test between the two countries.
It was a match Lockyer was desperate to be part of, as evidenced by the fact he came back early against South Sydney last week. And he was determined to stay on the field against the Tigers despite being in obvious discomfort.
"My knee hasn't pulled up too good from last night's game, in fact it was pretty ordinary right through last night's game," Lockyer said.
"I had a couple of weeks rest and came back and played the Rabbits and I reckon for 70 minutes it was good. The last ten it started to get a bit painful.
"Last night it was painful from about the fifth minute onwards.
"There's a couple of things in there that's giving me some grief. The first option last time was to give it a couple of weeks rest to see if it settled down, which it did, but obviously not enough.
"Our next option was always to go in there and have a bit of a scope and then depending on how much damage there is in there will determine how long I'm out."
Despite the ongoing issues, Lockyer said the injury would not ruin his season, or worse, his career.
"My focus is to get rid of the injury and the last four or five weeks that's been my focus," he said.
"I'm confident that once I get back to that 100 per cent fitness and my knee's going well, long-term it will be okay."