Inspirational Brisbane Broncos captain Darren Lockyer has undergone surgery for a fractured cheekbone and is a '50/50 chance' to play in Friday's preliminary final against Manly, coach Anthony Griffin said this afternoon.
Griffin said the 355-game veteran had three plates inserted into his face after last night's game and surgeons were happy with the results.
He spoke to the media after visiting Lockyer in the hospital and speaking with his surgeon on the phone.
“I think there’s a chance, I reckon he is 50/50,” he said.
“I just got off the phone to the surgeon and the big thing he stressed was that there’s minimal risk to the actual injury now, it’s just a matter of whether he can play with the swelling and the pain.
“He’s (Lockyer’s) still coming to, the doctor had literally come straight after surgery.
“At 2pm or 3 o’clock he’ll be able to have a clear head and start looking at it (whether he wants to play) but the main thing is the doc is really happy with it.”
Griffin conceded Wayne Bennett’s comments that the Broncos couldn’t win without Lockyer were “probably right”.
“People would say that, but there’s 80 minutes of footy on Friday and we’ve got other players who can play,” he said.
He said the obvious players to put in the five-eighth position if Lockyer cannot play are Corey Norman or Ben Hunt.
The Broncos team would start properly discussing options for the position this afternoon, Griffin said.
“It’s a final, we need to win, otherwise it’s cricket season.”
Lockyer, who last night kicked an extra time field goal against the St George Illawarra Dragons to take his team within one game of the 2011 NRL grand final, suffered the injury in the 70th minute.
Ironically it came not from a Dragons defender but teammate Gerard Beale, who had soared to collect a bomb but ended up collecting his skipper with a knee.
There was instant concern before Lockyer rose to his feet and rejoined his side, ulimately kicking the field goal to claim the one-point victory.
The club did its best to bury concerns for an armada of anxious fans but suggestions there was something more serious, most likely a fracture to the cheekbone, kept emerging from the Broncos camp well into the night.