Broncos legend Darren Lockyer says he is committed to turning the club around
Broncos legend Darren Lockyer says he is committed to turning the club around

‘I won’t quit’: Defiant Lockyer hits back at critics

Broncos legend Darren Lockyer is committed to turning the club around and will not quit his roles at Red Hill after copping savage criticism during Brisbane's disastrous 2020.

Lockyer will front for Brisbane's first board meeting of the season this week as Broncos powerbrokers plot a course back to the top of the NRL for the once glamour club.

The Broncos hit their lowest point in the club's 33-year history last year, collecting the wooden spoon for the first time and being engulfed by off-field controversies in the lead-up to coach Anthony Seibold's sacking less than two years into five-year contract.

 

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Lockyer, 43, is the greatest servant in Broncos history, having amassed a record 355 games for the club in a glittering 17-season career.

But his experience and reputation has also made him a target for disgruntled fans, ex-players and commentators, who targeted Lockyer during the nightmare of 2020.

Broncos chairman Karl Morris and Darren Lockyer at coach Anthony Seibold’s sacking. Picture: Annette Dew
Broncos chairman Karl Morris and Darren Lockyer at coach Anthony Seibold’s sacking. Picture: Annette Dew

Lockyer is the only Broncos' board member with genuine NRL experience and is also on the club's recruitment and retention committee which makes important player roster decisions.

He came under attack from former Broncos players, including Gorden Tallis and Chris Johns, over the decision to appoint Seibold as Wayne Bennett's successor in 2019 ahead of club legend Kevin Walters, who has since replaced Seibold.

Lockyer was absent from an Old Boys gathering last year due to other commitments and has denied his relationship with former teammates has become strained by the boardroom decisions.

Lockyer will continue on Brisbane's board and said he was devoted to helping his beloved Broncos become an NRL powerhouse again.

Gorden Tallis (left) was critical of former teammate Darren Lockyer’s board decisions. Picture: Liam Kidston
Gorden Tallis (left) was critical of former teammate Darren Lockyer’s board decisions. Picture: Liam Kidston

"I am committed," he said.

"I've always been about what's best for the team. That's always been the motto at the club. I am there as part of an overall team, I'm there to play my part.

"I do enjoy it. Last year was a difficult year for everyone at the club.

"It was really disappointing to watch it happen and where we ended up, finishing last, is totally foreign to the club. It was a unique experience you don't want to go through again.

"From a board perspective we want to do what we can and provide the support for the executive team, coaching staff and players.

"We want to put as many support mechanisms as we can around them so they're set up for success."

 

Board decisions aside, Brisbane's major focus this year will be improving on the field.

But the Broncos will have to do that without any major new recruits given the club has little salary cap room to play with.

While Darius Boyd has retired, David Fifita moved to the Titans and Joe Ofahengaue (Tigers) and Jack Bird (Dragons) were released, the Broncos have not been overly active in the player market and the club's 2021 recruits have raised eyebrows.

Former Cowboys forward John Asiata is the biggest name Walters has secured while he has also signed veteran winger David Mead from Catalans and injury-prone back Dale Copley from the Titans.

Albert Kelly only lasted one week on a train-and-trial deal before being released due to poor fitness while Walters is looking to sign his son Billy from the Tigers.

Former Cowboys player John Asiata is the Broncos’ top recruit for 2021. Picture, John Gass
Former Cowboys player John Asiata is the Broncos’ top recruit for 2021. Picture, John Gass

Lockyer explained the thought process behind Brisbane's recruitment strategy.

"There is a young group there that needs to be led in a training environment," he said.

"Those experienced guys that have come back, character and attitude is what the club was built on and that's been important with the older guys coming back.

"The Broncos don't have a lot of cap-space so we're not in the market for (marquee players)."

Broncos legend Petero Civoniceva is on Walters' coaching staff and in a welfare role at the club.

Civoniceva said the experienced recruits would help develop Brisbane's young squad, which was exposed last year.

David Mead will add expeirence to the Broncos. Picture: John Gass
David Mead will add expeirence to the Broncos. Picture: John Gass

"It's been fantastic to have their experience, especially for our younger players," he said.

"Xavier Coates can see the way David Mead applies himself to training and the professionalism he brings to the club. You can't undervalue that.

"The same with John Asiata. He is a wonderful rugby league player. The toughness and ball-playing ability he adds to the pack is something we will really benefit from.

"It's been noticeable at training the way he guides our young forwards in and around the ruck. It helps lessen the load on our halves. We haven't had a ball-playing forward that can direct our forward pack.

"They are a couple of guys who have come to the club and made a big difference."

Originally published as 'I won't quit': Defiant Lockyer hits back at critics