Business as usual without Lockyer
FOR 59 tests, Broncos champion Darren Lockyer was a constant in the Australian side. He was like the gold trim on the green uniform.
Now the Kangaroos are facing up to life after Lockyer as they prepare for Friday's Anzac test against the Kiwis in Auckland.
For most normal sides, that would be a difficult task, given Lockyer holds the world record for tests played and is widely regarded as one of the game's greatest ever players.
But Australia isn't any normal side.
In comes Cooper Cronk, who just happens to have played 13 tests already as well as six State of Origin and 191 NRL games, to play alongside Johnathan Thurston (22 tests and 21 Origin matches).
"With Locky gone now, they are pretty big boots to fill, but I am confident in my own ability that I can do the job for the team," Thurston, who will wear the Kangaros number six jumper, said. "I don't see any disruptions with me and Cooper playing in the halves. We will complement each other's game, finally."
The pair have rarely played in the halves together. Thurston remembers only a 30-minute stint in a test against France in 2009 and one against Wales last year.
The North Queensland Cowboys captain said he would not only wear Lockyer's number six, he would also try to play like him.
"Locky used to sit at the back and chime in when he wanted to and get the ball when he needed it," Thurston said. "When opportunities came up, he took them, and had a fair bit of success doing that. As a No 6, it's certainly a role I would like to play."