Renouf: Darius will have the last laugh on his critics
Fri 6 Sep 2019, 02:01 PM
The way Broncos captain Darius Boyd has handled the flak that's headed in his direction this year has been a credit to his character. Boyd was upfront about the need to improve his game on several occasions this year when he was well below his best.
He didn't hide. He came out and fronted the media and did so without any resemblance of frustration or anger. That is a great example to his teammates about how to handle the scrutiny that players - particularly Broncos players - are under. He's had a lot of assistance over the years from Wayne Bennett about how to handle the responsibility he now has.
Fans and the media are always going to have their opinion and Darius understands that now. It is a sign of his maturity and how he has built his character and mental strength. Darius has been around a long time but this year is the most criticism he's ever received as a player because he has always been such an outstanding performer at club level and for the Maroons and Australia.
He has certainly copped it. I had a look at a social media link the other day to see what people were saying about him and it wasn't great. And that was from Broncos supporters. As a captain and a player, you have to be bulletproof to get through the tough times.
I've seen Darius say that he doesn't read what is said about him, and while that's smart he's still been quizzed plenty of times by the rugby league media and his composure has really stood out. Over the last two months the Broncos have gone from long shots to make the finals to being on the cusp of making the top eight. It is remarkable that late-season surge has come after Darius switched from fullback to five-eighth. He had his best game of the season in the No.6 jersey last week against the Eels. He'd be first to admit he hasn't always found the transition easy but I don't think there are many, maybe not any, players who have changed positions after playing 300 games of NRL footy.
Darren Lockyer made the change but that was a lot earlier in his career. It is a massive challenge to go from fullback to five-eighth. It is always going to take time to adjust. What Boyd delivered last week in a big game is a good sign for the Broncos coming into the finals. The fact Darius was prepared to make the change without kicking up a fuss is another tribute to his character. He's said he has done it for the team's sake. The coach has asked him to do it. Even if Darius didn't want to do it, you'd never know from the way he has spoken about the switch. To be honest, it has worked out well for Brisbane because Milford is a lot more dangerous at fullback which I believe is his natural position. Milford was also going to take time to adjust after so many seasons at five-eighth but he looks good back there.
The other thing that has worked is Boyd playing alongside David Fifita. Darius is often in his ear and whatever he is saying is certainly working because Fifita has taken his game to another level. Darius has always had a good passing game and now he has had time at five-eighth he will get better and getting his forwards in the right place. There has been speculation Boyd won't keep playing at five-eighth next year but I don’t think we can know how that will unfold just yet.
outstandingYou could put Jack Bird at five-eighth, where he has played with success for Cronulla, and switch Darius to left centre where he has had some outstanding games for Queensland. It's anyone's game. There are options but that is a decision for Anthony Seibold to make once he knows the make-up of his squad. Boyd and Seibold could well have the last laugh. I think the Broncos can go deep into the finals.
leading the way
The pack is young but they have matured very quickly. The pack has been carrying the team with Payne Haas and Fifita leading the way but they've had plenty of mates. The pack went missing in action against the Dragons in week one of the finals last year but I don't think that will happen this year. Against the Bulldogs on Saturday night the Broncos will be looking to lock in their top-eight position and improve the combinations in the spine. Darius will be a key to making sure that happens.