Off the Wall


This Sunday we will be witnesses to history when Darren Lockyer plays his final rugby league match in Australia - at the level he has always been privileged to serve, playing for the Kangaroos.

Regrettably, his achievements as a test player, and captain, are unlikely to receive the media and wider coverage they deserve - this is a one off post season test being played in Newcastle, and will be up against the Wallabies v All Blacks game and the Caulfield Cup for media attention this week.

His test record is arguably even more significant, and dominant, than his club and origin records.

His test record is an extraordinary one - and we are being witnesses to history because his record, in all its aspects, is not likely to be beaten in our time, if ever.

I hope the ARL and the NRL pull out all stops and give Sunday's final appearance, and what ought to be a great game between the Kangaroos and the Kiwis, as much coverage as possible. He deserve it - and so do two teams who have been producing the kind of competitive test football we have long been lacking.

The Lockyer test record deserves repeating.

Sunday will be his 56th test match for Australia. Second place is held by Mal Meninga, with 46 test appearances, and Graeme Langlands with 45. That is a record I cannot see being equalled.

His first test match was for Super League against England in 1997. Any player who can represent his country over a fifteen year period has record an extraordinary achievement.
He has effectively been test captain since is not an unbroken period because of injury.

His nine year captaincy period is almost double that of his nearest rivals - Reg Gasnier and Laurie Daly both captained Australia over a five year period.

That is another record that is highly unlikely to ever be broken.

The aspect of his test career that impresses me most of all is that his commitment to representing Australia has been absolutely unqualified. There was never any consideration of abandoning test, or for that matter origin, football in his final year - as many other players nearing the end of their careers have opted to do.

He regards representing his country as the highest duty as a rugby league player.
And he has served our game, and the Kangaroos, extraordinarily well.

He is not the best player in the history of the game, but when it comes to longevity he is without peer - and probably always will be.

That is a remarkable achievement - and one we are privileged to be witnesses the final chapter of.