Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
2 days ago
Champion Brisbane five-eighth Darren Lockyer has been urged to stop playing for several weeks by one of the country's most qualified physiotherapists.
Scans on Lockyer's reconstructed left knee this week revealed the Australian, Queensland and Broncos rugby league captain was suffering from post operative "wear and tear" behind his patella.
"Brisbane would be better off resting him now for a month or so, settling the knee down and getting it totally relaxed and strong," said Lindsay Trigar who spent eight years working with the Broncos and 12 seasons with cricket's Queensland Bulls.
"Maybe he needs more than a month.
"Maybe he needs several weeks and then he could play the second half of the season confident he would get through it all pain-free."
Trigar felt if Brisbane persisted in playing Lockyer one week and resting him for another it could jeopardise his chances of playing Origin, if they weren't already over.
"The way things look, his Origin season is gone already," Trigar told AAP.
"Given his position on the field his knee is being asked do too much post-operatively.
"It's fatiguing quickly because the muscle mass is not there yet".
Lockyer, relieved to learn on Tuesday that there was no structural damage, will miss Sunday's NRL clash at Newcastle and be re-assessed ahead of the Broncos' Heritage clash with the Titans five days later.
"We think the best way is to give it a rest this week and see how it's coming along late next week," said Lockyer after getting his scan results back.
Trigar stressed he did not have all the facts on Lockyer but had dealt with thousands of knee reconstructions over the years, many involving elite athletes.
"It's always easy to be wise after the event," said Trigar.
"You have to question whether coming back in nine months in retrospect was wise or whether they would have been better to follow the AFL's general rule of thumb which we all use which is 12 months off.
"The history of ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstructions has been that we used to say 12 months rehab."
Trigar said in most cases the ACL was ruptured not by contact but when a player was in the act of decelerating.
"Darren Lockyer plays a premium position where he has to change position, decelerate, kick the football and he's putting his knee under a tremendous amount of load," he said.
"If you look at the amount of time he's played versus the amount of time he's missed and will miss, if he'd sat out the first month and given his knee a chance to settle down, you'd probably end up with about the same amount of game time."
Brisbane, meanwhile, have dropped rookie winger Reece Robinson for Sunday's game.
Despite scoring his second try in four games, Robinson has paid the price for some defensive lapses and his insecurity under the high ball with another speedster Denan Kemp named on the wing.
Second-rower Corey Parker was close to playing but will be given another week to get over his knee injury.