THE word legend is over used in sport.
There are good players. There are great players.
But legends? The genuine ones are few and far between.
But I cannot imagine anyone will argue with bestowing that tag on the Brisbane, Queensland and Australia captain Darren Lockyer after the events of the last week.
Lockyer’s status as one of the best players the game has ever seen has long been assured after a decade and a half of amazing the world with his magical skills.
But what could turn out to be the final chapter of his 355-game NRL career proved to be one of the most compelling of the lot.
Lockyer played his final home game at Suncorp Stadium in last Friday’s semi final against St George, coach by his friend and mentor Wayne Bennett.
The game itself was one of the best, if not the best, I have seen this year.
Predictably, Lockyer was in brilliant form throughout.
But the defining moments of the contest - and perhaps even Lockyer’s career - came 10 minutes from time after he collided with the Broncos full back Gerard Beale, suffering what turned out to be a fractured cheekbone and concussion.
Normal players leave the field with injuries like that.
But Lockyer? Oh no. Not only did he play on, he also found the skill and composure to kick the winning drop goal in the last second, sealing a 13-12 Broncos win that takes them to within one game of a Grand Final.
It was all reminiscent of Wigan’s Sean Edwards playing on with a fractured eye socket in the 1990 Challenge Cup final against Warrington.
Lockyer then stood in the middle of the field and told the world he thought it might be “just a knock”.
Twenty four hours later, with three metal plates freshly inserted in his face to hold everything together, he was already talking about playing against Manly in tomorrow’s semi final.
In the end, the Broncos abandoned that idea; although Lockyer has already said he will play in the Grand Final on Sunday week if his side upset the odds in Sydney and make it past the Sea Eagles.
The idea of Lockyer finishing his career on the biggest stage of all, hopefully against Melbourne’s Halifax-born stand off Gareth Widdop - who will be hoping to steer the Storm past the Warriors - is one that appeals.
Perhaps the fairytale isn’t over just yet.
ANOTHER Brisbane player who featured heavily last weekend was the young threequarter Jack Reed.
Reed, who was born in Castleford before moving to Australia when he was two, has now put himself up for England selection.
The 22 year old, who was being tipped as a Queensland Origin player, will now give Steve McNamara some much-needed backline punch in the Four Nations.
He will be joined, potentially, by the Wests Tigers forward Chris Heighington, who has also chucked his lot in with McNamara.
I have now realised why McNamara’s is a full time job: He spends his time sifting through piles of passports.