Former NSW State of Origin representative, Brad Izzard predicts Queensland will be in trouble for tonight's Origin II match after losing Lockyer to injury.
Former NSW State of Origin representative, Brad Izzard predicts Queensland will be in trouble for tonight's Origin II match after losing Lockyer to injury. The Northern Star

'Tough task for Maroons'

FORMER NSW State of Origin rugby league representative Brad Izzard believes the loss of Darren Lockyer could cost the Maroons the second interstate encounter and the series at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium tonight.

The Lennox Head-based former Penrith Panther described Lockyer's influence on Queensland as Wally Lewis-like.

"Lockyer just creates such an aura he's like Wally Lewis in that regard," Izzard said.

"He just walks into the Queensland side and they're a different team.

"It's a task in itself playing at Suncorp. It's a daunting place. But I think without Lockyer Queensland will struggle."

Izzard, who still plays the occasional legends rugby league game, believes NSW have the right gameplan under coach Craig Bellamy heading into the second match.

"If the Blues stick to their same gameplan they should get the cash," he said.

"They'll have two different ball players to mark in Thurston and Prince because Hunt wasn't like that in the last game. But if they bottle up Thurston, Prince and Smith they should go okay."

The former Penrith centre, who is now an assistance coach with the Lennox Head rugby union club, believes the selection of Prince is well-deserved.

"They should have picked him in the first game regardless of how good Thurston can be," Izzard said.

"Thurston hasn't been playing well and he's been playing in a side that's not going well."

Izzard, who retired in 1992 after winning a premiership with the Panthers in 1991, played in the 1982 State of Origin series.

An Origin opening ceremony

He also played one match in the 1991 Origin series.

"In my first match I came off the bench after Chris Anderson got injured and played on the wing," he said.

"I was lucky enough to score with my first touch of the ball and we actually won the game.

"Playing in front of a Lang Park (Suncorp) crowd was a daunting task because I don't think there is any more passionate crowd around in any code than Queenslanders."

Izzard made his Origin debut as a 19-year-old outside one of the league's best players.

"The captain was Steve Mortimer but I was lucky in that I played outside Steve Rogers who was my idol," Izzard said.

"Rogers and Mick Cronin were the centres and as a kid growing up they were both my favourite players.

"I had a fairly lucky career. I got to play with and against blokes like Rogers, Max Krilich, Mick Cronin and those types of guys and also to play with Brad Fittler, Laurie Daley and Wally Lewis.

"They were two very different decades."


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