Pesky Kangaroo who won't be tied down

Lockyer, the nemesis of GB and now England, is still not ready to call it quits

The bad news for England is that they might not have seen the last of their nemesis, Darren Lockyer, even after this year's Four Nations.

Lockyer, captaining Australia in their match against the old enemy in Melbourne this morning, has seemed to haunt British sides ever since his Test debut in 1997. It sometimes seems that all of his record tally of 34 tries for his country have been timed to deny Great Britain or England victory.

"There have been some memorable ones," he says. "I suppose the 2003 series, where we were losing in the first and third games and I scored late tries in both, that stands out. The other one I remember was the one against New Zealand in injury time in the 2006 series."

Lockyer is unlikely to rank the scruffy close-range try he scored against Papua New Guinea at Parramatta last week as one of his most memorable or significant efforts, but it did enable him to beat Ken Irvine's 40-year-old Australian Test record for tries – much to his relief.

"It had been talked about for so long, I was just pleased to get it out of the way and move on," he says, with the air of a man who has alwaysdisliked the fuss that goes with being the world's best player. But moving on does not necessarily mean moving out.

At 33, Lockyer's impending retirement has been discussed for several seasons, if only because it is recognised that he is going to be so difficult to replace. He was widelyexpected to announce the end of his Test career after the Four Nations last year. This time, he is still around, still an automatic selection and still not sure that the time has arrived.

"Last year, I thought it would probably be my last, but I worked very hard through the pre-season and built up my fitness," Lockyer says. "I'm still feeling pretty good, so I might have another one in me."

It all amounts to one of the great rugby league careers, or rather two careers, because it tends to be forgotten that Lockyer was as good a Test full-back as the game has ever seen before he was controversially transformed into a stand-off.

Sceptics who said that he would not be able to make that transition have long since eaten their words, but that switch explains why he takes a special interest in a young player in opposition today whose career might be heading in the opposite direction.

Sam Tomkins began with Wigan as a teenage stand-off, before being successfully switched to full-back halfway through last season. He started the Four Nations at scrum-half against the Kiwis, but was named at full-back against Australia.

"I played against him in the Four Nations last year," Lockyer says. "He was a very young player then, but he did some very good things. He's a bit different and very dangerous."

Despite his own progression in the opposite direction, Lockyer does not believe that being turned into a full-back by club and national coaches will do Tomkins any long-term harm. "At this stage of his career he might get more freedom there," he says.

Twelve years his junior at 21, Tomkins is one of a crop of young English players Locker believes are capable of actually winning big games, rather than coming frustratingly close until a player of his calibre – or New Zealand's Benji Marshall – snatches the prize away.

Of the side that took the field against Australia today, only Gareth Ellis, Ben Westwood and Stuart Fielden are around the 30 mark. "England have some really good individuals," Lockyer says. "They just need to put it all together for 80 minutes."

He will get no argument on that from the England coach, Steve McNamara. He has been keen all week to cast off any depression over last week's performance in favour of the determined cheerfulness of long-term optimism. "It's a very young team," says McNamara. "Obviously we want to do well in this tournament, but the experience that players are getting here will stand them in good stead for the future. It's good news for next year's Four Nations, but it's good news for the World Cup in 2013 as well."

And, somewhere down the line, they could be part of an England team that doesn't have to contend with Lockyer. He just isn't quite ready to say when that might be.

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game