Darius Boyd faces a new challenge with the Broncos.
Darius Boyd faces a new challenge with the Broncos.

Craddock: Dilemma Broncos have never faced before

Can't live with him. Can't live without him.

The Broncos have never had a selection dilemma quite like Darius Boyd this season.

Demoted from the captaincy, Boyd is set to make the switch no one expected last September when he plays left centre for the Broncos in their opening NRL match against the Cowboys on Friday week.

League veterans who watched Boyd closely in the Broncos' trial defeat by the Titans on Saturday saw nothing that convinced them that at age 32, he is ready for an exciting new chapter in his career.

But it was a trial match so we will reserve our final view.

 

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Boyd has had a brilliant career and it is a credit to the man and the game that he will finish a completely transformed character from the shy, fearful youngster he was when he started after a tough upbringing.

The dignified way Boyd has handled the scrutiny around his career over the past few winters has been a lesson to veterans from all sports, and it's no wonder the Broncos are going to give him every chance to shine.

David Fifita likes playing with Boyd and being told where and when to run by him. And the Broncos need Fifita, 20, to be at his best to finish in the top four this season.

But it is hard to defy gravity in sport.

Darius Boyd will be given every chance to shine. Picture: Annette Dew
Darius Boyd will be given every chance to shine. Picture: Annette Dew

 

It is never a promising sign when a veteran player switches position, not because he is suited to his new post but when he is no longer up to speed in his old one, which is the case with Boyd.

There is very little grey area for veterans in rugby league. The gap between being with it and past it is so narrow you could barely slip a cigarette paper through.

When it comes to leadership, rugby league teams are a bit like the Australian cricket team - all things equal you choose the team first and then the leaders.

But this season all things are not quite equal for the Broncos, who are again likely to field the youngest team in the competition and need an old head or two to run them around the paddock.

Patrick Carrigan captained the Broncos in their trial against the Titans. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Patrick Carrigan captained the Broncos in their trial against the Titans. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

That they were captained in Saturday's trial against the Titans by Pat Carrigan, who has played just 19 NRL games, was not simply a sign of Carrigan's promise but also how much this team needs strong senior voices, old hard heads.

The importance of old sweats in rugby league can often be underrated because they do so many of the little things we never notice.

The one thing in common about the group of teams to win recent NRL premierships is that they had an old warrior as a leader like Boyd Cordner, Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Paul Gallen.

They were hard men in every way who, as Corey Parker pointed out in The Sunday Mail, had the tough conversations needed to improve a team. No tap-dancing around the edges with that lot.

 

What the Broncos would do for a player like any of these.

Alex Glenn may be the club captain but, like Boyd, he is struggling to make the top side.

As popular as he is, it's hard to lead from behind.



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