Australian skipper Darren Lockyer admitted he spent the final ten minutes of Saturday night’s Rugby League World Cup final loss to New Zealand contemplating his last missed opportunity.
Seeking to lift the one trophy he hasn’t held aloft as skipper, Lockyer was devastated after the match knowing he wouldn’t be around to contest the next tournament in 2013.
“The thought went through my mind after the game – with ten minutes to go I was thinking this was my only chance, unfortunately it wasn’t to be,” Lockyer said after the Kiwis romped home 34-20.
“We put in a lot of hard work but unfortunately we didn’t win the tournament.”
Lockyer was named man of the match, little consolation for the champion five-eighth who did his best to lift his side over the line.
He scored two tries in the first half and set up Greg Inglis to pull the home side to within two points at 22-20 late in the contest.
But he was ruing a denied third try that would have put the Australians up 16-0 after 20 minutes.
“I have no doubt if I’d have scored there it would have been a whole different ball game,” Lockyer said.
“But hindsight’s a wonderful thing.”
New Zealand officials and a smattering of players will take the trophy back home on Sunday morning when they are sure to get a wonderful reception.
But any plans for an official celebration could be scuppered by the fact not all players will be heading back across the ditch.
The Australia-based NRL players are taking holidays before rejoining their clubs for pre-season training in the coming weeks.