24 Sep 2011

Lockyer's NRL career comes to an end

1:32 pm on 24 September 2011

Darren Lockyer's monumental National Rugby League career is over and all the champion five eighth could do to attempt to prolong it was readjust his seating position.

For the entire season Lockyer had played to a perfectly written script - even missing Friday night's preliminary final against Manly with a fractured cheekbone smelt like a dramatic Hollywood twist to be resolved with a Herculean return in next week's Grand Final.

But instead of another week of sporting drama to cap his too-good-to-be-true farewell tour, Lockyer became the helpless onlooker as his Broncos went down 26-14 at the hands of the ruthless Sea Eagles.

In time Lockyer can look back at his match-winning effort in golden point in last weekend's semi-final against St George Illawarra as a fitting way to have said goodbye to the game he dominated for 17 years - but probably not for some time.

As Manly got to an early lead and never relented, Lockyer could barely watch, squirming in his seat, moving forward in his chair and then back, for 80 minutes.

For the first time in his career, Lockyer was helpless as the Sea Eagles celebrated and the Broncos commiserated on the field after fulltime.

Taking the field five days after having three titanium plates inserted in his face was considered too dangerous, but the wretchedness of watching from the sidelines was painful enough.

Of course it's not quite over yet, the game will be hoping Lockyer can recover in time to make it back for the end of year Test matches.

But after four Premierships and a record 355 first-grade games, it was a cruel way for his Broncos career to finish.