Is Boyd willing to put himself on the front line again? Image: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Is Boyd willing to put himself on the front line again? Image: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Kent: Boyd must be a full-on fullback

There was an old jockey who, when he was retiring, got asked why and his answer had nothing to do with the usual reason, which is the sudden drying up of winners or angry bookmakers.

"The older I get," he said, "the harder the ground gets."

He was speaking to a little considered fact of sport; younger bodies bounce much better than older bodies, which tend to break first.

And so on Tuesday Darius Boyd, the Brisbane Broncos captain who is 31, got up on a stage in the middle of Brisbane and answered a few questions about his recent form.

It has many wondering how much longer he can continue and is increasingly becoming a part of the Broncos' debate about why they are going so poorly.

It is not like the Broncos can continue to carry him through his poor form for an indefinite period. They have two wins from eight and the finals are fast disappearing.

"I don't know what outside noises have been saying," Boyd said, though it sounds like he might have had some idea. "But my body is really good and, my form, I'm pretty happy with to be honest.

"I know there has been a bit of talk about defence and different things, but I believe if we hold the ball a lot of us will pick up our performances."

It was a glass half-full response.

Boyd is playing like contact hurts him. He is playing cute. Trying to finesse a result when most times the collision is necessary.

Is the NRL getting too much for Boyd? Image: Michael Dodge/Getty Images
Is the NRL getting too much for Boyd? Image: Michael Dodge/Getty Images
 

There are examples in every game this season.

Boyd became a meme in the early rounds when his subdued defensive efforts against Sydney Roosters were put on loop and released to the world.

The examples were varied. In some, an opposition player broke the line and Boyd drifted forward to cut down the angle and, instead of colliding in the tackle, he went for an intercept and got caught in the middle.

It looked terrible.

Several times a player punched through and Boyd, always one of the game's more athletic players, fell to the ground as he was wrong-footed. Tap-on plays in attack, passing a step further form the line than he once used to pass.

 

Boyd‘s performance against the Roosters has drawn plenty of fire. Image: AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Boyd‘s performance against the Roosters has drawn plenty of fire. Image: AAP Image/Dean Lewins
 

All have happened more than once this season.

But he believes he is going well and does not believe too much needs to change, outside the usual culprits like the team hanging on to the ball and making fewer mistakes.

It is too simple an out.

Honesty is a tangible quality, but it shouldn't be. It either happened or it didn't. It was either done or it wasn't.

And a player either played well or he did not.

Boyd maintains his position and when fault is found with his form his responses make sense. Truth has many versions.

The inconvenient truth, though, is that Boyd needs to find contact again or risk being lost to the game.

 

Even Brandy needed a touch up now and then.
Even Brandy needed a touch up now and then.

 

Many years back, sometime after the jockey was finding the ground too hard, Greg Alexander was the strike player at Penrith and the one bloke the Panthers needed playing well at season's end.

Alexander was predominantly a running halfback, although more than capable at organising a team. The Panthers were best, though, when Alexander was running.

On the rare occasions when his form slipped to less than his best, it came when he concentrated on organising ahead of his strength.

So when Penrith got near the finals, coach Phil Gould would switch Alexander to fullback for a week, sometimes two weeks or even three, to force Alexander to get in touch with his running game again. Then he would switch Alexander back to half when he needed him.

For the same reasons it might be time for Anthony Seibold to switch Boyd to five-eighth.

Boyd knocked back a suggestion that his days at playing fullback were gone and that five-eighth might suit him better.

"It is a team sport and I am happy to do whatever the team needs," he said. "But my best position is fullback so moving me wouldn't suit considering the guys we have in different positions as well."

 

Is Boyd willing to put himself on the front line again? Image: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Is Boyd willing to put himself on the front line again? Image: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

 

A move to five-eighth, if only for a short while, would force Boyd to defend in the front line and would force him to get used to contact again. Either way Seibold gets his answer.

The danger for Seibold is there has already been so much change.

He has another new halves pairing following the Kodi Nikorima's release last week, the outside backs look different after James Roberts and Jamayne Isaako were dropped, and a new hooker in Jake Turpin after the knee injury to Andrew McCullough.

But a half-firing fullback makes no sense at all. It might be time to test how hard he ground is.