Boyd’s brutally honest assessment of hellish season
The savage criticism directed at Darius Boyd reached a deafening crescendo after the Knights loss. Now the maligned Broncos captain has opened up about the endless tirades and his own form.
Few players have endured the brickbats Boyd has consistently copped this season as the Brisbane captain prepares to lead the Baby Broncos into battle against the Sharks on Sunday at Sydney's PointsBet Stadium.
Queensland Origin legend Paul Vautin has labelled his defence "abysmal". NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler claims Boyd's mind isn't on football. Former NSW hooker Michael Ennis believes Boyd has simply fallen out of love with the game and no longer has the desire to mix it with the best.
The savage criticism reached its crescendo in the wake of Brisbane's 26-12 loss to the Knights last Saturday night, when Boyd was trampled by Jesse Ramien on the way to Newcastle's match-sealing try.
Boyd's performance - in his first ever game at five-eighth after being switched with Anthony Milford - has sparked speculation he is one more poor game away from being dropped to the Intrust Super Cup.
Such a scenario seemed unfathomable when Boyd helped Brisbane to the 2015 NRL grand final, but ahead of the Sharks clash, the Broncos' most accomplished current player is candid about his form.
"I'm not going to blame others, I'll put my hand up for my situation," Boyd told The Courier-Mail.
"I was disappointed for a few days after the Knights game. I felt I let the team down and the boys down, so I need to make amends this week.
"I'm always filthy at myself when I don't play well. If I drop a bomb, or miss a tackle, I mark myself hard.
"I'm always trying to be the best I can. It (his form) is even more disappointing when we have a really young group.
"I'm the captain. I'm one of the older and more experienced guys and I'm making mistakes like that (his missed tackle on Ramien).
"At the end of the day, I can't change what happened. I will have a look at the video and why I missed the tackle and I'll be practising this week to improve and make sure I'm better all round."
Boyd's frustration is amplified by a portfolio that stamps him as one of the most successful players of his generation.
In May, he became just the 35th player in the code's 111-year history to reach 300 first grade games.
He has won two premierships, a Clive Churchill Medal, played 28 Origin matches for Queensland, and 23 Tests for Australia.
But this season, his 14th in the NRL, Boyd has lost his mojo. He has missed 26 tackles, more than any fullback in the game, and is averaging 94 running metres, way behind his No.1 rivals James Tedesco (171m), Tom Trbojevic (164m) and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (167).
Desperate to spark the Broncos and his skipper, coach Anthony Seibold last week moved Boyd to five-eighth. He returns to fullback this week following a knee injury to Milford.
Boyd, who turns 32 in a fortnight, is contracted to Brisbane until the end of 2021.
There have been calls for him to retire now, but Boyd says he will not make a kneejerk decision on his future.
"I know there is stuff out there about me. I don't read anything," he says.
"All I can do is talk to 'Seibs' (Seibold) and have some honest conversations with him about the team and where we are headed and my performances.
"All I can do is work on my own form.
"The outside noise doesn't faze me because I know a lot of it is to create hype and make stories and that's the media's role. I understand the media has a job to do and they have to sometimes dramatise some issues and there is a lot of content on a lot of shows.
"I don't read it. I don't think about it. I respect people have opinions. That's fine.
"But all I care about is what happens internally and what is said in-house. All I have to worry about here is what the coaching staff want me to do and how I can get better for the team.
"At the end of the day, I will back my ability. I haven't had my best year this year. I accept that. I need to be better. I'm still training hard. I'm still hungry.
"When it comes to retirement, I'm not going to make any rash decisions. I've had some good games this year, I've had some poor games this year.
"I'm not happy about my form but all I can do is keep working hard and help this team get back to where it needs to get to.
"I need to teach the young guys at our club about experience and leadership, and qualities that make you a successful football player for a long period of time.
"I have achieved a fair few things in the game, so I feel I can help them on and off the field."
While Boyd accepts NRL players will be criticised, he believes some critiques are over the top.
"We are in a privileged position, but we are still human beings and mental health is a consideration, especially for the younger players in the game," he said.
"I just hope the media remember we are talking about a game of rugby league. It's not life and death.
"We are just human beings doing our best every week. Sometimes we don't get it right. We aren't perfect.
"Whether we get paid $10 million or 10 cents, it doesn't matter, we're just doing our best and harsh, personal criticism shouldn't come from it.
"Any time I don't play well or any time I make an error, I know I am going to be spoken about because of the way we are going as a team.
"Whenever the team loses, every performance is pulled apart and because I am captain, they will look at me and the highest-paid players in the team. I don't lose sleep over that because that's the reality.
"I'm all for constructive criticism and the fans deserve to hear analysis of the game, but some of the things said about me and other players go too far and is not good for players' wellbeing."