Wayne Bennett and Darren Lockyer haven’t spoken since 2018 after a dramatic falling out. Now the game’s saddest split threatens to rock a Origin campaign.
Wayne Bennett and Darren Lockyer haven’t spoken since 2018 after a dramatic falling out. Now the game’s saddest split threatens to rock a Origin campaign.

Maroons family feud threatens to derail Origin campaign

Maroons selector Darren Lockyer insists his fractured relationship with Wayne Bennett will not derail Queensland's quest to snap a State of Origin losing streak.

The Queensland Rugby League will announce on Friday that Bennett will replace Broncos-bound Kevin Walters as Maroons coach for next month's series.

Bennett will return to the helm of the Maroons for a one-off campaign which will be his fourth stint in the Queensland coaching hot-seat.

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Queensland selector Darren Lockyer and coach Wayne Bennett had a falling out over Anthony Seibold’s Broncos appointment in 2018.
Queensland selector Darren Lockyer and coach Wayne Bennett had a falling out over Anthony Seibold’s Broncos appointment in 2018.

The appointment of Bennett will place the South Sydney coach at the same selection table as Lockyer, a Broncos board member who Bennett feels contributed to his sacking from Brisbane in 2018.

Bennett and Lockyer had a father-son style relationship during Brisbane's golden years but the duo fell out sensationally two years ago during the Broncos' civil war.

Bennett felt the Broncos board went behind his back in chasing Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy and believes Lockyer failed to fight for him in the corridors of power when the club later signed Anthony Seibold.

 

Darren Lockyer and Wayne Bennett after a victory in 2001.
Darren Lockyer and Wayne Bennett after a victory in 2001.

 

While Lockyer has reached out to Bennett, the super coach has told close friends he has no intention of ever smoking the peace pipe with his former Broncos skipper.

But that must now change. Bennett and Lockyer will come face-to-face on Queensland's selection panel in the coming weeks ahead of Game One in Adelaide on November 4.

Lockyer told News Corp Australia he would not let his beef with Bennett hamper Queensland's campaign.

"His departure from the Broncos did put a strain on our relationship but I'm really looking forward to working together with Wayne again with a common purpose," Lockyer said.

"Wayne is one of the greatest coaches in bringing a group together and playing for each other. It's something that is critical to success in the Origin arena."

The Maroons are coming off back-to-back series defeats and have lost Walters as head coach only a month out from the first game.

Walters will remain in the Queensland set-up over the coming weeks to oversee the train-on squad's preparations before handing over the reins to Bennett.

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QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher said he didn't feel the need to intervene in Bennett and Lockyer's relationship ahead of the reunion.

"Not at all, they are both very professional people," he said.

"If you read Darren's book you will see they have a strong and beneficial relationship. Those things never die.

"We can all have differences of opinion but it doesn't change the world. They are both highly professional people.

"They are grown men who are united by our aims and what they've both done and need to contribute to the next series.

 

QRL Chairman Bruce Hatcher says the pair will mend their relationship. Picture: Adam Head
QRL Chairman Bruce Hatcher says the pair will mend their relationship. Picture: Adam Head

 

Former Maroons hooker Kerrod Walters, Kevin's twin brother, said Bennett and Lockyer had to overcome their differences for the state with Queensland already battling injury concerns and a lack of depth.

"I'm sure they will both put their differences aside, they're both level-headed people," he said.

"The Queensland team is the ultimate prize. They need to work together and put their differences aside to ensure Queensland has a successful series.

"Our stocks are thin at the best of times and we've lost some key players. But we've been down this road before and the Queensland spirit has risen to the occasion.

"I'm sure Wayne will be confident they can do the job. In 2001 no-one gave us a chance and Wayne rallied the troops and got us home."

Originally published as Maroons family feud threatens to derail Origin campaign


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