Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
Champion five-eighth Darren Lockyer has been warned not to rush his latest comeback attempt in a bid to prove his fitness for next month's Centenary Test.
Lockyer is expected to step out for the first time publicly at training on Tuesday with his eyes firmly set on a return against South Sydney on Friday night.
Test selectors will name the side for the May 9 clash with New Zealand in Sydney on Sunday night, but Brisbane's performance director Jeremy Hickmans said Lockyer had to be wary of putting his long-term health ahead of Australian honours.
"I think Darren has got his head around it now that he needs to get himself back right, not just get himself back in a certain time frame," said Hickmans.
"One of the hard things with these injuries is to get back feeling right not thinking 'I need to get back for round one or round four or a Test' or whatever it might be.
"He's got to be honest with himself and honest with us and we've got to be very careful.
"We'll put him through all the tests and see if he pulls up with any pain."
Lockyer made an earlier than expected return from major knee surgery playing his first two NRL games against Penrith and the Roosters off the bench before knee soreness forced him to miss the clash with the Cowboys.
He again came off the bench against Melbourne but failed to see out the game and has missed clashes with Newcastle and the Titans since.
"Until we get him out here and getting him running and see how he reacts to it, we're just guessing really," Hickmans said.
"We've got a couple of tests we do on him to see if he's ready and he's passed them fine.
"At the moment it's just an educated guess."
Hickmans said Lockyer's problem was soreness and some damage behind the knee cap from the surgery.
Lockyer's dilemma is not wanting to miss the Test and the Origin series but knowing if he comes back before he is ready he may not only risk his representative season but also jeopardise the Broncos premiership claims.
Fullback Karmichael Hunt's knee injury was an unusual one with Hickmans admitting he's not come across it previously.
"I need to catch up with (surgeon) Pete Meyers for some more specifics but it is an unusual one," said Hickmans.
"I've never see it before. It's a ligament behind the knee and that's about all I know."
Hunt is looking at two to three weeks recovery and is out of Test contention.
Forward Corey Parker is also in doubt for Friday night's game after experiencing some pain in his knee in his comeback game against the Titans at the weekend.
"I doesn't look too serious and he hasn't put himself back too far," said Hickmans.
Friday night's match will be veteran lock Tonie Carroll's 200th premiership game for the club.