New Dragon forges new image

Darius Boyd St George Illawarra Dragons 2009 NRLDarius Boyd took the world by storm on the NRL field in 2008, but the young star was hampered by headlines of sexual assault claims in the latter half of the year – forcing him and close mates, Karmichael Hunt and Sam Thaiday to reconsider their trusting view of the public.

Boyd and his teammates were thrust into the controversy after a 24-year-old female made claims of assault against the trio in the toilet of a Queensland nightspot just prior to the NRL semi finals.

While the charges were soon dropped against the Broncos, the stigma of such allegations hurts the players for much longer than many care to realise. As we’ve said before, there needs to be some recourse for the likes of the Broncos trio – who while cleared must suffer while their names get dragged through the mud and the person making the allegations can continue in relative anoniminity.

Regardless of the legal outcome, the Broncos still fined Boyd $20,000 over his poor judgement as the club forged their new hardline against curfew breaking players.

Combine the emotion of the allegations along with the heartbreaking loss by the Broncos to Melbourne – the NRL 2008 season probably ended in the worst way for young Boyd.

However, with the arrival of the 2009 NRL season only a few weeks away – it was a relaxed Boyd yesterday who spoke of the impact on his family and friends after the allegations of September.

“That was the toughest thing, just family and that,” he said.

“I didn’t want to let them down, but I just want to move on and forget about it and push forward from here.

“… It was just one of those things that happened and I can’t take it back now.

“I just move on and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Off-field dramas aside, Boyd was superb throughout the year on the NRL field. Bagging a 3 try haul early in the year and then eventually going on to make his Queensland State of Origin debut in games 2 and 3.

But it didn’t end their for Boyd who managed to grab an opportunity with the Australian World Cup squad – debuting for the Kangaroos against PNG in the tournament.

While enjoying his on-field feats at such a young age, Boyd did confirm that off-field events began to distract him late in the year.

“When I was around all the boys and playing footy and training I was fine, but when you go home and you’re sitting around and start thinking about things, it probably gets on your mind a bit.

“But I try not to think about it too much and just play footy and get on with it.”

Still only 21, Boyd admits he has learnt a tough lesson. The shy player will naturally be more cautious around the public and possibly less trusting of fans trying to corner him and potentially make a name for themselves.

A big decision to relocate to the St George Illawarra Dragons to link with his old coach Wayne Bennett is a strong showing that Boyd is ready to take the next step in his career. Moving away from his home state to establish himself with a new club is not something to be taken lightly; however the guidance of Bennett and the smart recruiting of ‘hard head’ forwards at the Dragons should provide the outside back with the room he needs to make an impact. The likes of Jeremy Smith and Michael Weyman show that Bennett wanted brute force in the pack, both noted hardmen who like to do more than push and shove.

So while Boyd gets his chance to start afresh in new surroundings as he enters the next phase of his career; you can’t help but get the feeling the Dragons are going to be a much different side this year. They’ve always had the flashy talent, but injuries and a perceived lack of toughness in many eyes have prevented them from going all the way; now they have the best of breed coach – forwards with a seriously tough edge and along with some new faces in the backs.

No doubt Dragons fans will be eager to watch things evolve in the first few rounds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *