Cool, calm and collected ... the great Darren Lockyer
Cool, calm and collected ... the great Darren Lockyer

Fox League Classic: Locky proves his greatness

They say that you don't know what you've got until it's gone and I'm tipping that most, if not all, rugby league fans can relate to that at the moment.

Thankfully this weekend we'll be able to relive some of the best matches in the game's history with Fox League Classics kicking off Friday night with the Broncos v Eels Round 12 clash from 2008.

We started the 2008 strongly winning six of our first eight games, but an injury to Darren Lockyer in our Round 8 encounter against the Wests Tigers saw us drop back-to-back games against the Sea Eagles and Sharks.

Heading into our Round 12 game against the Eels we were again preparing to be without Locky, but like he had done so many times before, he returned from injury early to help out the team.

Running out in front of 25,000 people at Suncorp Stadium, you got the sense that something special was going to happen.

The night didn't start well for us, with Feleti Mateo in fine touch, the Eels scored two quick tries to lead 10-nil after 10 minutes.

We managed to work our back into the game with two tries before half-time to go into the break trailing by only two points.

The lead changed hands numerous times in the second half and with the scores locked at 26-all with 10 minutes to go it really was anyone's game.

We thought we had the game won in the 76th minute when Mick Ennis attacked the short side and found Justin Hodges with room to move, Hodgo turned the ball inside to Karmichael Hunt, who threw a cutout pass to Nick Kenny who pushed an offload to Peter Wallace.

I was standing, unmarked, outside of Wallace and when the ball came my way and I crossed the line I thought I had scored the match-winner.

As I turned to celebrate with my teammates I heard the most dreaded sound on the planet, the referee blowing his whistle for a forward pass.

Us forwards don't get the opportunity to score many tries, let alone a match-winner, so to have that moment of glory stripped from me stung for a second.


Broncos Darren Lockyer  Peter Wallace and Corey Parker
Broncos Darren Lockyer Peter Wallace and Corey Parker

With seconds left on the clock we would have one last chance to win the game.

Most players would shy away from having the ball in their hands with the game on the line, but the great players relish those moments.

Thankfully for the Broncos we had one of the greats, Darren Lockyer, in our side.

I was standing inside of Locky when he received the ball and I was expecting him to take a shot at field goal, but when the pass hit the deck and the Eels rushed him, Locky had to go to plan B.

There's two things that all great the players have, time and instincts, and Locky had both in spades.

Instead of panicking, Locky stepped off his left foot, bought himself some time and space from the defensive line and executed his plan B.

Noticing that Eels winger Eric Grothe Junior was out of position, Locky put in a pin-point kick for Broncos winger Denan Kemp.

Not only did Kempy have tremendous speed, he also had tremendous confidence in his ability to find the try line.


Denan Kemp scores the match-winning try against the Eels
Denan Kemp scores the match-winning try against the Eels


The hero ... Denan Kemp embraced by teammates.
The hero ... Denan Kemp embraced by teammates.

Other wingers may have been tempted to step inside and try and find a support man, but Kempy backed himself and set his eyes on the try line.

With Grothe and Joel Reddy converging on him, Kempy got low and get across the line to seal one of the greatest wins in the Broncos history.

I get asked often about what type of preparation goes into winning big games, but truth be told you can't train for moments like that, those moments are won on instincts.

Training puts you in the best position to win a game, but when the game is on the line that's when instinct takes over.

Our training taught us not to give in when we fell behind early, it's what allowed us to fight our way back into the game late, then it was Locky's instinct to put the kick in and Kempy's instinct to back his speed that won us the match.


Don't miss FOX LEAGUE Classics with the 2008 Broncos v Eels Round 12 clash tonight at 7pm (AEST) on FOX LEAGUE and streamed on Foxtel Now and Foxtel Go.