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3 days ago
Queensland's representatives on the national selection panel are not expecting to fight any southern opposition when they submit Darren Lockyer's name for next month's Centenary Test against New Zealand in Sydney.
There had been rumblings in the corridors that some Australian selectors were concerned Lockyer had not played enough hard football to be picked for the May 9 Test and that ongoing his battle with knee soreness meant Braith Anasta should wear the No.6.
But the Queensland panellists, Des Morris and Les Geeves, are expecting unanimous support for the Broncos veteran.
"I don't think that's the case at all," said Morris who confirmed he and co-national selector Geeves would be pushing for Lockyer to play his 37th Test against the Kiwis.
"I think everyone on the panel is in agreement about how good he is and what his worth is to the side."
Lockyer pulled up surprisingly well after playing an unexpected 80 minutes against South Sydney on Friday night.
It should have been enough to convince Australian coach Ricky Stuart he will be right to resume him representative career.
Lockyer didn't speak to the media at Saturday morning's recovery sessions but he did some light exercises which seemed to indicate his right knee had not blown up overnight.
"I'd say he's been having a mental battle," said Morris.
"But he didn't hold back last night and that's what we all wanted to see."
A season-ending knee injury to young centre Steve Michaels took the shine of Lockyer's return.
Michaels suffered the injury in a sickening tackle with Souths centre Nigel Vagana when he fell across his leg awkwardly.
Michaels, who is yet to re-sign with Brisbane although he has a one year option in his favour, was shattered after suffering the same injury in 2006 when Brisbane won the premiership.
He didn't miss one minute of football last season.
"We're definitely going to miss him, he's been playing outstanding football," said his flatmate Darius Boyd who could even fill his position when Karmichael Hunt returns from injury.
"He was pretty upset last night but he'll come back even bigger and better.
"He'd been playing awesome footy and it's just sad to see it happen to a good player and a good friend."
Also evident last night was the confidence the Broncos had gained in Lockyer's absence.
A number of times play swung away from Lockyer last night with halfback Peter Wallace at first receiver on the opposite side.
Previously everything revived around Lockyer but Wallace's ability to run plays will take some defensive heat of Lockyer.
"His direction and experienced helped us," said Boyd whose running game set up a nice try for winger Denan Kemp.
"Teams marking up on Lockyer have got Wal (Wallace) to worry about now, so it's good."
"All the boys love having (Lockyer) back in the side and we all know we need him.
"It helps knowing we can win without players like him and Karmichael, it gives the younger guys confidence."
Brisbane played down concerns over a shoulder injury to centre Justin Hodges, who is expected to join Lockyer in the Test side when it's named this weekend.
Hodges showed great courage to play despite a bad virus which had him vomiting prior to the game.
He suffered a corked shoulder when he hit the turf heavily but is expected to be fit for next Saturday's away clash with the Wests Tigers.