Lockyer to switch to five eighth

The Brisbane Broncos are taking a bold approach to the 2004 season by moving test captain Darren Lockyer from fullback to five eighth. Lockyer, who usually plays at second receiver anyway should fit into his new role comfortably from an attacking point of view, but there is no doubt opposing coaches will target Lockyer is defence in an effort to blunt his attacking prowess, possibly rendering him ineffective.

The move will be seen as a major reshuffle for the Broncos who are expected to give Motu Tony first crack at the vacant fullback spot while Shaun Berrigan will move to the centres, pushing Michael De Vere to the wing and Casey McGuire into lock.

On the representative front, the Lockyer move could pose a problem for selectors with Trent Barrett the first choice five eighth when fit, now under some pressure as Anthony Minichello would be favoured to fill the fullback spot. The selectors could still use Lockyer at fullback in the representative arena but if Lockyer is a success at pivot (and he will be), then the move by Bennett will really throw the cat amongst the pigeons.

The move will also have major implications for the representative career of Braith Anasta, who has struggled with form and injuries over the last season and would have Barrett and Lockyer ahead of him at five eighth, while Shaun Timmins would be favoured for the lock position.

A positive for the Queensland selectors is they can choose either Rhys Wesser or Clinton Schifcofske at fullback and name an outstanding backline which would include Lockyer, Schifcofske, Wesser, Hodges, Tate, Sing and Hegarty.