Darius Boyd during a Brisbane Broncos training session.
Darius Boyd during a Brisbane Broncos training session. DAVE HUNT

How Boyd turned his career - and life - around

TWO and a half years ago, Darius Boyd was at rock bottom.

The rugby league star was battling depression, had no interest in footy and his home life was in ruins.

On Wednesday, Boyd was named captain of the Brisbane Broncos for 2017.

Rugby league is littered with stories of bad boys making bad decisions, but among those are some heartwarming tales of redemption. This is one of the best.

For so long a closed book to the media and an enigma to those outside his inner sanctum, Boyd is now a new man. Vowing to be more open so the dark days that prompted him to undergo treatment in a psychiatric hospital never return, the 29-year-old revealed what it took for him to finally change a life that was quickly heading downhill.

"To be honest it was my wife (Kayla). She said she'd had enough, she said it wasn't something that she wanted to stick around for and be a part of in that relationship," Boyd said on Triple M's Dead Set Legends program.

"It wasn't enjoyable for her, and even myself. I wasn't happy. I was angry, I wasn't sure what was wrong or why I was feeling the way I was feeling or why I was acting the way I was acting.

"Something needed to change. Her leaving was the last straw that I really needed to change something and do something."

Boyd is known for only letting a few people into his life. It's why he's only ever been coached by one man at first-grade level - Wayne Bennett.

Handed a debut by the mastercoach at the Broncos in 2006, he followed Bennett to St George-Illawarra, Newcastle and then back to Brisbane again. It's symbolic not only of Boyd's loyalty, but also of how few people he's willing to get close to.

But there came a point when a life spent pushing people away took its toll. After Kayla left him, Boyd realised keeping people at a distance wasn't the answer.

"She left and went home and I had an empty house and realised I'd been pushing all the closest people away from me," he said.

"I had no family, no support and no one around me at all. It was a lonely feeling and I realised I needed to change and needed to better myself.

"I wasn't enjoying footy. I had no motivation to cook dinner. Footy didn't mean as much to me as I thought it meant any more.

"When that wasn't making me happy or going well then at the end of the day family and friends and supporters are what you need the most and that's what I didn't have."

 

Kayla Boyd, the wife of newly appointed Brisbane Broncos captain Darius, and their daughter Willow.
Kayla Boyd, the wife of newly appointed Brisbane Broncos captain Darius, and their daughter Willow. DAN PELED

That was when Boyd decided he needed help. Following reports he allegedly caused $1500 of damage to a hotel room in the NSW Hunter Valley, he was admitted to Sydney psychiatric facility Northside Clinic and diagnosed with depression.

Rather than slide further into despair, the Queensland and Australian representative - with Kayla's help - made it through the other side. The pair now have a daughter together, and Boyd's new-found happiness is why he'll have the "C" next to his name this season.

"It's a scary thought to be honest (if Kayla didn't stand by me)," Boyd said. "I don't know, it would have been a harder process to pull through and get to the other end.

"She gave me that light at the end of the tunnel, she was very supportive through the process ... she visited me and kept in contact with me and kept that support there, which helped me get to where I am today.

"I was so quiet and I kept everything in for such a long time and that probably didn't help me, so to finally be open and get everything off my chest and talk about things and not try and hide away and shy away from things is a big relief and something I've been trying to do ever since."

Much has been said and written about Boyd's family life and upbringing during his time as a professional rugby league player. Raised by his grandmother from the age of 15 and never having met his father, Boyd finally reunited with his mother for the first time in years in 2014 on the advice of doctors after leaving rehab.

It was a sign he was open to change.

For a shy man often reluctant to speak - he delivered one of rugby league's more infamous press conferences - Boyd's development has been astounding. The banner on the Northside Clinic website now features Boyd's image and an interview with the sporting icon sharing his personal story.

If he were to retire now, Boyd's resume would be full of highlights. Twenty-six Origin games for Queensland, 21 Tests for Australia, 2010 Dally M Fullback of the Year and a premiership-winning Clive Churchill Medallist (for best on ground in a grand final) is more than most players will ever achieve.

But the new Brisbane skipper is far from finished. His best may still be yet to come.

If you or someone you know needs assistance call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

News Corp Australia


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