COFFEE CHAT: Darren Lockyer discusses life, being a father and his best Wayne Bennett story.
COFFEE CHAT: Darren Lockyer discusses life, being a father and his best Wayne Bennett story. Contributed

PODCAST: Lockyer shares tales from on and off footy field

EVERY sport has a player who stands head and shoulders above their peers.

In the sport of rugby league, for nearly 20 years, that player was Darren Lockyer.

One of Australia's greatest sportsmen, Lockyer has been immortalised in a bronze statue outside the home of State of Origin, Lang Park.

In this chat, Darren talks about his life both on and off the field, including what he values as a father, how he almost never picked up a rugby league ball, and his best Wayne Bennett story.

LISTEN: Get the full chat with Darren Lockyer here:

Matt Collins:

Was it always the goal to play rugby league?

 

Darren Lockyer:

Well, I first picked up a footy in the backyard as a five-year-old, but it was an AFL ball. I actually played AFL until I was nine. Then Mum and Dad moved out west to Wandoan before going out to Roma and they only played rugby league out there. So I swapped the AFL ball for a rugby league ball and the first game of rugby league I watched was the 1987 State of Origin. I watched a guy called Wally Lewis play and I said, "Well, that's who I'd like to be".

 

MC:

When the Broncos came calling you were 14 or 15, you still had a few years of high school to go, some would say the most important years of high school. Did you kind of switch off from your education, knowing you were most probably going to fall into a career with sport?

 

DL:

Well, I actually finished year 10 then I did a year to become a carpenter. Then in 1994 I actually got a job with a builder in Roma and I had a scholarship with the Broncos. So I had to make a decision to chase my dream of becoming a Bronco or stick to a trade. In the end I sat down with Mum and Dad and we talked it through. They were probably against me handing my apprenticeship in, but I got my way there somewhat.

 

MC:

Do you remember much about your first NRL game?

 

DL:

It was against Parramatta in Sydney. I had played in the reserve-grade game which was a big moment for me, because Wayne had dropped some big names back to reserve grade in '95. Kerrod Walters played, Terry Matterson, Willie Carne and I was the half-back. They took me off at half-time and I then sat on the bench for first grade. With 20 minutes to go the Broncos were up by 40 and there was no pressure on me or the game. I played the rest of 1995 in first grade.

 

MC:

What's one of your more memorable Wayne Bennett stories?

 

DL:

When I first came out to the Broncos in '95, I was in the under 19s. I was in the dressing rooms and Wayne came over to me and he started talking to me. He knew where I lived, he knew how I was playing and what I was doing well in the under 19s. I thought, "How does he know all this?" I guess that's just a testament to how he takes an interest in his players and cares for them. In return players want to play for him.

 

MC:

What does Darren Lockyer like to do outside the game?

 

DL:

Spend time with family mostly. I am not a golfer.

 

MC:

So you're the one?

[Both laugh]

 

DL:

Yeah.

 

MC:

You've got four young kids. What's the best fatherly advice you have passed onto them?

 

DL:

Be respectful to your mother.

[Both laugh]

 

DL:

For me, its about respecting others. My parents were hard-working people and they brought us three boys up really well. I think what they taught us about treating people how you'd like to be treated is pretty simple, but if you do that in life you'll be a good person.

 

MC:

You'll be in the South Burnett shortly for the relaunch of the Telstra store. What's one of the more memorable stories you have from these meet and greet events?

 

DL:

I don't encourage this, but I have signed people's arms and they go and get it tattooed.

LISTEN: Get the full chat with Darren Lockyer here:

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