Lockyer: Boyd must play smarter
BRISBANE playmaking legend Darren Lockyer believes Broncos skipper Darius Boyd must accept he is not the athlete he used to be and work harder on his game management to succeed in his twilight years.
As Boyd prepares for Sunday's elimination final against the Eels at Bankwest Stadium, Lockyer drew on his personal experience as he offered Brisbane's leader advice to extend his career in the NRL next season.
If anyone can relate to Boyd's move from fullback to five-eighth, it is Lockyer. The Broncos legend was 27 years old when he was handed the famous No.6 jumper by Wayne Bennett in 2004.
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Within two years, Lockyer skippered Brisbane to their most recent premiership in 2006.
Boyd has come under searing scrutiny since his mid-season shift to the frontline and at age 32, there are calls for him to retire, but Lockyer is adamant the 316-game stalwart can play on with a renewed mental approach.
"The key for Darius is not worrying about the external noise," Lockyer said.
"If he works really hard with his preparation, he can still get success at the back end of his career.
"From experience you have to work harder than you do in your prime. Darius may not have the same speed or strength, so you need to pick up that edge you've lost by working harder with your training.
"I came back after my knee reconstruction (in 2007) at age 30 and I just wasn't the same player anymore. I didn't have the same zip off the mark, my right leg took a yard of speed off me and my age was starting to come into it.
"I just knew I didn't have that same edge I once did, so I had to be smarter and go from a player who liked to run the ball to a player who game managed and passed the footy.
"The last 12 months, when I knew that would be my last year, I put everything into my preparation and I started playing some better footy that year.
"Darius, at 32, is now in that phase of his career, but I still believe he has more to offer the Broncos."
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold retained Boyd in the halves for the sudden-death showdown with the Eels.
In 10 appearances at five-eighth, Boyd has won five, drawn one and lost four for a 55 per cent success rate.
There is a sentiment that Boyd lacks the tactical kicking and game-management at five-eighth to take Brisbane to the holy grail, but coach Seibold says he will persist with his skipper at the scrumbase.
"I will stick with Darbs at five-eighth," he said.
"We have shown a lot of improvement at the back end of the season with Darius in the halves.
"The other night (in Brisbane's 30-14 loss to the Bulldogs), I really feel we didn't turn up with the right attitude, but the previous nine weeks with Darius in the halves and 'Milf' (Anthony Milford) at fullback, we have done a pretty good job."
Boyd insists he is not kicking stones at being stripped of his beloved No.1 jumper and concedes he and halves cohort Jake Turpin must take more control against the Eels.
"I loved playing fullback but I've actually enjoyed the five-eighth role," he said.
"It was a big move at this stage of my career but I feel I am getting better and getting used to the role each week.
"It was disappointing to lose the way we did against the Bulldogs. It's up to the halves to get the team in the right spots of the field and make sure we are completing our sets and executing our plays.
"I know we need to build good sets to give ourselves opportunities and that starts with me and 'Turps'. We can't play into Parra's hands."