Locky returns to Maroons' fold
HE helped mastermind the Maroons' most dominant era in Origin history. Now former Maroons skipper Darren Lockyer is back to haunt the Blues - as a Queensland selector.
The Queensland Rugby League yesterday added Lockyer to their Origin selection panel as the Maroons plot a ninth consecutive series victory this season.
And the QRL has also bolstered Mal Meninga's squadron of assistants, with Kevin Walters formally installed in the first step towards succeeding Meninga as Queensland coach.
The 36-year-old Lockyer will be Queensland's fourth and youngest selector, joining existing triumvirate Gene Miles, Allan Smith and Des Morris, who remains the panel's chairman.
Lockyer retired at the end of 2011 as the Maroons' most capped player and the veteran of 36 Origin matches last night spoke of his desire to help continue Queensland's dominance.
"I don't want to be a passenger, I want to help make a difference and it will be great to have some input in selecting the side," said Lockyer, who will stay on as a board member of the Broncos.
"I feel very fortunate to be in this role among the existing selectors.
"It was driven by the current coach and Mal indicated he wanted me to stay heavily involved with the Origin family.
"I always said I would do whatever I could to help Queensland out. Mal does a wonderful job not only with coaching on the field but the peripheral stuff around the team and it's great to be a part of the process."
QRL chief executive Rob Moore said Lockyer's role as a Channel Nine commentator gives the former Maroons five-eighth the ability to assess the form of Queensland aspirants.
"It wasn't a difficult decision including Darren with the three other competent selectors we have already got," Moore said following yesterday's QRL board meeting.
"There's no doubting the current selectors' knowledge of the game and their enthusiasm for Queensland.
"What Darren brings is currency more than anything else, as well as being a former player involved in so many Origin series wins.
"There is the value in really knowing what it is like to play through that many series and have so many successes.
"You have to look at the selection panel as a team and Locky helps us cover every aspect of the game."
Moore said Walters, who joins Michael Hagan among Meninga's senior coaching assistants, would also play a key mentoring role.
"Kevvie has been through the Origin program, he's been on our staff before, he is the logical choice to come into the squad and help out," he said.
"There's a number of aspiring coaches out there who would have an interest in coaching Queensland one day and Kevvie is certainly in the mix."