Boyd: ‘I never thought about giving the game away’
Brisbane captain Darius Boyd has pledged to fight to retain the club captaincy and says he will not be railroaded into retirement by critics who don't understand his passion and desire to still succeed in the NRL.
Having weathered a brutal 2019 campaign, Boyd opened up to The Courier-Mail in his first interview following months of speculation Brisbane's most decorated player is set to be axed as captain by coach Anthony Seibold.
The sole survivor of Brisbane's 2006 premiership team, Boyd returned to Broncos training last week, revealing he has not once considered quitting in the wake of the club's horror 58-0 finals loss to Parramatta three months ago.
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Since his coronation as Broncos captain in 2017, Boyd has relished the responsibility, but Seibold has come under pressure to install a new leader following the skipper's form struggles last season.
As he prepares for his 15th season of first grade, Boyd says he will have no qualms if he is stripped of the captaincy, but is determined to retain the top job in his quest to lead the Broncos to a seventh premiership in 2020.
"I just want what is best for the Broncos," Boyd said.
SEIBOLD held one-on-one reviews with every Broncos player, including Boyd, following the club's worst-ever defeat to the Eels. In the eyes of many, Boyd was seen as a dead-man walking as captain following the Parramatta defeat.
Last week, Boyd was one of seven players to attend a leadership camp with Seibold in Tasmania. Seibold will announce his leadership group before Christmas and Boyd still hopes to be Brisbane's top dog.
"It's been awesome having the captaincy," he said.
"It (captaining Brisbane) is something I never thought possible when I was younger. I had my own issues to worry about in the early stages of my career.
"When I became captain of the Broncos, it didn't 100 per cent sit well with me because all eyes were on me and there was a lot of responsibility at this club.
"But I've really grown to enjoy it. I actually enjoyed the captaincy more than ever last year because I was able to help the young guys coming through.
"Ultimately, it's not up to me. I think I have done a great job as captain and if 'Seibs' wants to keep me, I would love to do it. I enjoy the job and the Broncos mean the world to me.
"But if Seibs doesn't want to go with me, I will respect his decision. If Seibs decides he wants to go with another captain, I am OK with that."
SOME of rugby league's legends, including NRL Immortal Andrew Johns and Queensland Origin icon Paul Vautin, ripped into Boyd's form last season. But the 2010 Clive Churchill Medallist, who turns 33 next July, says he always planned to soldier on in 2020.
"I have never thought about giving the game away, never," he said.
"People can have their opinions and write what they will, but the body and mind feels good so it would be silly to give the game away if I still love it.
"I don't read the news. I don't have social media. I don't watch sports talk shows or read the paper. As sad as it is these days, everyone wants the negative twist and the negative grab. It's the way of the world.
"But I try and live a positive lifestyle. I just live my life in a way that makes me happy and makes my family happy. I find it pretty easy to block out the negativity because when I don't read it or listen to it, it doesn't get to me."
THE NEW POSITION
BOYD is bracing for a new role next season. Brisbane's No.1 fullback for the past five seasons, he finished 2019 at five-eighth but Seibold has spoken to Boyd about playing centre or wing next year.
The skipper has been training at left centre in recent days, but could find himself on the right wing if Seibold opts for a centre alliance of Jack Bird and Kotoni Staggs.
There is speculation Boyd could start the season in the Intrust Super Cup but that appears unlikely.
"I guess it's not so much where I want to play, it's more a case of where Seibs wants me to play," he said.
"Look, fullback is my favourite position, but I'm a team player and I will always play where it best suits the team.
"At the moment, Seibs is looking at me in the centres moving forward. I've been training there the last couple of days so that's a challenge for me.
"I think I can do well at centre. I've played there in State of Origin. Sometimes a change of positions can be a breath of fresh air so I'm keen to embrace a new role."
IT is a tribute to Boyd's longevity that he needs just three more matches to surpass Billy Slater (319) in the NRL's 300-game club. If he plays seven games this season, Boyd will leapfrog Johnathan Thurston (323). The shock retirement of his good mate Matt Gillett reinforced for Boyd how quickly an NRL career can end.
"There's no guarantees for me. This is a performance-based industry, I know that," he said.
"What matters is how I'm feeling and how I'm playing. The big side is the mental side. You need to be motivated and be prepared to make some sacrifices to stay at the top. You still have to want to work hard in the gym and do extras at training.
"Even my numbers this year since coming back, how fast I'm running, how fit I am, I'm not going backwards. I will back my ability to play to a high standard and help the team."
BOYD scoffed at suggestions his relationship with Seibold, who delivered some home truths during their player review, is strained.
"I have a lot of respect for Seibs," he said.
"I know Seibs wasn't happy with how the season finished and neither were the players.
"Wayne (Bennett) has coached me for pretty much my whole career, but Seibs did a great job last season and I like the way he schedules training. I like the way he handles himself with the players and the way he communicates.
"Seibs wants to raise the standards here and I support that."
BOYD is contracted until the end of 2021 but many believe next season could be his NRL swan song.
"Without giving you a headline, retirement doesn't worry me," he said.
"I'm excited for the future. I'm only a young guy at 32 so I have a long life to live hopefully after rugby league.
"I would be lying if I said I wasn't daunted because rugby league has been all I've known. But I've done some work in the mental health space in the last three or four years and I have a good plan beyond football. I know what I enjoy outside of rugby league so if it finished tomorrow, I would be in the best space to handle it.
"Not everyone gets a fairytale ending and I'm not after anything special in particular. If football stopped tomorrow, I would be grateful with everything I have been able to achieve and what rugby league has given me.
"I don't really know if it will be the end. I've never been in this position before. I've never finished a career in rugby league, but I know I don't want to make rash decisions. I will talk to people I trust and be honest with myself.
"I guess you only have one career in this game."