Lockyer’s message to Inglis ahead of future call
Queensland Origin selector Darren Lockyer has appealed for Greg Inglis not to walk away from his NRL career today, warning the Maroons skipper could live to regret a sudden retirement.
D-Day has arrived for Inglis, with the Souths superstar to meet with Wayne Bennett on Monday to inform the Rabbitohs coach whether he will sacrifice $1.5 million by quitting the NRL immediately.
Bennett last week ordered Inglis to take a week's rest to clear his head, fuelling speculation the Maroons captain was at breaking point and could drop a retirement bombshell as early as today.
Bennett admits Inglis' future hangs in the balance ahead of their decisive meeting at Redfern headquarters.
Inglis was originally planning to retire at the end of 2020 when his contract expires, but two painful injuries, including an arthritic shoulder, has left the 32-year-old considering quitting now.
But Lockyer, Inglis' first Origin captain, is adamant his former Maroons teammate is not a spent force.
Lockyer remembers the shock retirement of former Broncos colleague Allan Langer, who sensationally quit eight rounds into the 1999 season, and says Inglis could make a grave mistake by rushing a decision on his future.
"Greg has more in him. He's not finished in my eyes," Lockyer said.
"When I think of the situation with Inglis, I think of the Alf (Langer) scenario.
"We were going through a real rough patch at the start of the 1999 season after we won the premiership the previous year and it was too much for Alf - he walked away.
"But on reflection, if Alfie had his time all over again, I don't believe he would have retired so suddenly."
Lockyer, who played in five Origin campaigns as Inglis' skipper, has another solution. He believes an extended, two-month sabbatical can reignite Inglis' passion - even if it means the Queensland captain missing the Origin series opener on June 5.
"The best thing for Greg is to have a good break from the game," Lockyer said.
"I'd give him two months off to get away from the game which would also help his body recover from the injuries that have taken a toll on him.
"From experience, in the NRL, you can be feeling down when times are tough and the risk is you make a snap decision.
"But if Greg gets away and has a good freshen-up, it might give him some perspective.
"In two months' time, Greg might be feeling totally different."
Inglis' Maroons teammate, Storm half Cameron Munster, has battled his own demons, undergoing counselling last year for alcohol abuse, and urged the Souths giant to find inner peace.
"I don't want to push 'GI' to keep playing," Munster said.
"If his heart is not there for footy, so be it … I'm more worried about his wellbeing.
"Greg has had an incredible career and I just hope he can find happiness.
"When I had my dark days last year, my football went pear-shaped.
"If he does decide to hang up the boots, he will know in his heart if it's the right decision for him."