Never far from trouble
By MITCHELL DALE
IN five seasons playing first grade with Coffs Harbour, prop Russell Boyns has landed more punches on chins than he has scored tries.
To many Group 2 fans, Boyns is the loosest of loose cannons, a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode into a flurry of fists at any time.
Some people, most of them Comets fans, call him a hard-nut ? a throwback to the 1970s when players had to be one part footballer, one part fighter.
Other people, usually opposition fans, call him a thug.
One thing is for sure, whenever there's a stink on, you can bet your beer money that Boyns isn't far from the action.
But off the field it is a different story.
In a classic case of white line fever, the normally mild-mannered 36-year-old transforms to an aggressive firebrand who is never far from trouble as soon as he steps onto the field.
"I don't know what it is, but I am totally different when I run out onto the field," Boyns says.
"Don't get me wrong, I don't think violence in sport is a good thing, but I don't see anything wrong with backing up your mate if he is in a stink.
"I never go out there looking for a fight or to rip someone's head off, but if I cop it I will give it back."
Boyns lives by the old theory that what happens on the field should stay on the field.
"I never hold any grudges, I leave it on the field and most other blokes in the Group do the same thing," he says.
"I know a lot of the blokes off the field as mates, like (Woolgoolga prop) Lee Harvey.
"But it doesn't matter who they are on Sunday."
There is also some method to Boyns' punch-happy approach to footy.
"I don't rate myself as being up there (with the best players), so if opposition players want to spend the day chasing me around the park, it leaves more time and space for the blokes in our side who can win games," he says.
But underneath Russell Boyns the footballer, who is a regular visitor to the sin-bin, there is a very person.
When the footy boots come off, so does his angry side and a quiet and unassuming bloke who shys away from the spotlight emerges.
"Yeah mate, I love my kids and I would definitely say I am family man," he says.
"I have two girls, Laura (12) and Georgia (seven) as well as two step kids, Todd (14) and Katie (19).
"In my spare time I like going fishing or surfing with the family, we're pretty family-oriented."
In fact, when Boyns first took second wife Jacqui to watch him play for the Comets, he had to convince her that he might get into the occasional fisticuffs.
"As we were driving out to Advocate Park, I warned her that she might see me in a few fights," he said.
"She said 'No, not you'.
"I played the whole game in reserve grade and never looked like getting into a fight, but I sat on the bench in first grade and went on after about 15 minutes and ended up getting straight into it.
"Jacqui just said 'You've got to be kidding'.
"A lot of her friends and people we know ask Jacqui what I am like to live with.
"They're pretty surprised when she tells them what I'm like (away from football), she says I am like Jekyll and Hyde."