Darius Boyd tonight plays his 300th NRL game — against his long-time mentor. Artwork: BoHDi/YMCA Fortiude Valley. Picture: Annette Dew
Darius Boyd tonight plays his 300th NRL game — against his long-time mentor. Artwork: BoHDi/YMCA Fortiude Valley. Picture: Annette Dew

Back to Wayne’s World for Boyd’s 300th

DARIUS Boyd would have been content to play one game in the National Rugby League.

Tonight, the Broncos skipper plays his 300th.

Providing a narrative that only rugby league can, Boyd will tonight run on to Sydney's ANZ Stadium to celebrate his triple century against the Rabbitohs and Wayne Bennett, the man he credits for saving his NRL career.

For 12 years, Boyd and Bennett shared a father-and-son-like alliance.

When the Broncos told Boyd he was unwanted in 2008, Bennett threw him a lifeline at the Dragons.

When Boyd checked into rehab to treat a dark battle with anxiety in 2014, Bennett counselled him through the ordeal.

When Boyd returned to the Broncos in 2015, it was Bennett who brought him back, then completed the Red Hill resurrection by handing him the club captaincy for the 2017 season.

Now Boyd will chalk up his 300-game milestone as skipper of a Broncos club plotting to break former Brisbane coach Bennett's heart in the NRL's grudge match of the year tonight.

"I just wanted to play one game for Brisbane so to get to 300 NRL games, it's an accolade I'm proud of," Boyd told The Courier-Mail.

"It's funny how footy works.

"When I looked at the draw, I thought if I stayed injury-free, my 300th game would be against Wayne.

"He actually rang me yesterday and said it's Darius Boyd Day (tonight).

Darius Boyd tonight plays his 300th NRL game — against his long-time mentor. Artwork: BoHDi/YMCA Fortiude Valley. Picture: Annette Dew
Darius Boyd tonight plays his 300th NRL game — against his long-time mentor. Artwork: BoHDi/YMCA Fortiude Valley. Picture: Annette Dew

"I thanked him for everything that he has helped me achieve - it will be a bit weird playing my 300th against him after everything we achieved together.

"We didn't talk football too much.

"When I got off the phone, it made me reflect on my career, he said some nice things that made me feel humble and very grateful for the successes I've had in this game."

In the brutal world of the NRL, not many players possesses the mental toughness and the longevity to rack up 300 games. Just 34 players in the code's 111-year history have reached a triple century. Boyd is No.35.

Ideally, the 31-year-old would have played all 300 in Broncos colours after his debut in 2006, but when Brisbane moved him on two years later, Boyd continued his career under Bennett at the Dragons and later Newcastle.

He played 69 games for the Dragons and 62 for the Knights, but Boyd's heart always remained at Red Hill, and when he returned in 2015 for Bennett's second incarnation, his career was complete.

Darius Boyd was well into footy by age 6.
Darius Boyd was well into footy by age 6.

"He never wanted to leave the Broncos, so the fact he can now finish his career there is appropriate," Bennett said.

"I remember the day Brisbane told Darius they didn't want him. He was shattered. He loved the club. All he wanted to do was play for the Broncos.

"He came back from a meeting and said he needed to find a new club. I said, 'Well mate I'm going to the Dragons and you're coming with me.'

"I always thought he would be a 300-gamer and I thought he would get there pretty young.

"There was just something about him. Even since the age of 18, when I first met him, he was always so professional in his approach to the game.

"He had some issues along the way. Going to rehab changed his life. He saw people who were really depressed and he has learned some techniques to apply to his daily life.

"The demons can be there from time to time but he understands how to handle himself now. He's right up there with the greatest players the Broncos have had."

Darius Boyd today with daughter Willow, 3. Picture: Annette Dew
Darius Boyd today with daughter Willow, 3. Picture: Annette Dew

Boyd enjoyed a dream entry to the Broncos when he won a premiership in his rookie season in 2006, but 13 years on, he clings to another dream - captaining Brisbane to a title.

Bennett's father-figure role in Boyd's life was critical. He has never met his father and was raised by his grandmother Delphine, who passed away in 2017, from his teens after his biological mum battled with mental-health issues.

"Wayne showed a lot of trust in me. Most of all, he cared about me," said Boyd, who also played 28 Origin matches for Queensland and 23 Tests for Australia.

"The one thing I noticed is he cared about me as a person, rather than a footy player.

"He wanted me to be the best person I could be. I took to that. I didn't have a support network around when I was younger and he supported me through that period.

"Watching him for so long as my coach and mentor, he looked out for me and that was very special. He brought out the best in me because he cared."

Broncos coach Anthony Seibold paid tribute to Boyd, who plays his 169th game for Brisbane tonight.

"It's an incredible effort from Darius to reach 300," he said.

"He went into the NRL straight from school at Palm Beach Currumbin high.

"He has done it all, he's won a premiership, played for Queensland and he won the Clive Churchill Medal (as man-of-the-match for the Dragons in the 2010 grand final).

"Darius has grown into a great leader. It's good he is playing against Wayne because they have had such a great relationship.

"It's bizarre how it has worked out, but it's fitting."