Broncos player Darius Boyd in action during a Brisbane Broncos team training session in Brisbane, Monday, January 6, 2020. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt) NO ARCHIVING
Broncos player Darius Boyd in action during a Brisbane Broncos team training session in Brisbane, Monday, January 6, 2020. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt) NO ARCHIVING

Will Boyd accept stepping down?

DARIUS Boyd is about to confront one of the biggest - and smallest - challenges of his career after dropping in to the no man's land every footballer dreads.

It's a challenge which will test the very limits of his motivation, and one which has proven beyond some of the sport's greatest names.

Strangely enough, it's not whether, at 32, he has the form and fitness to again reach the top of the rugby league mountain.

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It's the polar opposite challenge ... whether he has the drive and patience to chug it out in the game's foothills.

Will, at some point in this season, Boyd be prepared to play in the second-tier competition, the Intrust Super Cup?

After 23 Tests, 28 State of Origins and 321 NRL games for three clubs, will Boyd have it in him to punch it up with the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, the kids on the rise and the veterans having their last hurrah in the Intrust Cup?

Boyd has lost the captaincy to Alex Glenn. Photo: Annette Dew
Boyd has lost the captaincy to Alex Glenn. Photo: Annette Dew

The whisper has been around Red Hill that if Boyd is demoted to the Intrust Cup he would consider it the obvious end point of his career and could well retire.

It would not be a matter of him thinking the Cup was beneath him, but simply an acceptance that after squeezing every last drop of potential from his career he had nothing more to give.

But here's the twist.

The Broncos don't need him to be so hasty. Boyd might not have a place at the moment but there is every chance that he could be in and out of the team this season and become an extremely important fringe-dweller.

Is Boyd still prepared to do what it takes to play the game? Photo: Annette Dew
Is Boyd still prepared to do what it takes to play the game? Photo: Annette Dew

So while the Intrust Cup might seem the end for him, for the Broncos, it might be more of a detour in what shapes as his farewell season.

All the goodwill around Alex Glenn's appointment as captain does not change the fact that he was being shopped around to other clubs at the end of last season, so while he is a popular choice as captain, it won't hurt to have another experienced leader floating around the top team.

This young Broncos team still need leaders with experience. Photo: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
This young Broncos team still need leaders with experience. Photo: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

Boyd has been told to challenge for a centre spot but at the start of the season when nearly everyone is fit, there is a strong chance he could be squeezed out of the starting 17 and back to suburban football which, mentally, could be more unsettling than anything that confronts him in the big league.

Most of Boyd's statistics were down last year but there were small bright spots, such as the fact that key weapon David Fifita thrived being directed by him.

Footballers such as Boyd spend their lives motivating themselves for higher challenges. They are not used to having to get up to get down, so to speak.

Last year I went to Bishop Park to watch James Roberts play in the Intrust Cup and you could tell by the way he drifted in and out of the game his body was there but his soul had left the building.

After the match I walked on the ground to ask him about his future and his vague answers cemented the fact that experience had convinced him to move on.

Within three days he had left the club and was off to Sydney.

When the time comes, what will Boyd choose? Photo: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
When the time comes, what will Boyd choose? Photo: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

Boyd has played in the Intrust Cup before, for Burleigh when he was an 18-year-old and - sports trivia question alert - for the Aspley Broncos in 2007 when he was dropped for a couple of games for disciplinary reasons.

He has reportedly arrived at Red Hill this pre-season as one of the Broncos' fittest three or four players and, with a new plant-based diet, is giving it all he has.

No matter what happens this year he has been a great success story, battling through mental health issues to morph from a sullen, insecure teenager to a confident, articulate leader and impressive spokesman for mental health management.

Has he mastered some of the game's greatest challenges ... now for something completely different.



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