Wherever Wayne Bennett went, he followed. When the time came for Bennett to leave the Dragons, Knights fullback Darius Boyd was left with a tough decision – ‘do I go to the Titans, or follow Wayne to the Knights?’
That decision was made easier, when Bennett replied: “Just remember, it’s totally your decision. You don’t owe me anything.”
With the two forming a strong bond, for Boyd, he believes that everything he has achieved so far in the NRL, is because of Wayne Bennett.
“I owe Wayne everything.
“I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am today without him. He’s been great to me from the start.
“Not just with footy but with life in general.”
The possibility of playing for the Titans was a very real one for Boyd, as it would have moved him closer to his friends and family, especially his grandmother, who apart from Bennett, has been the biggest inspirational factor in his life and career.
“My mum brought me up but there were a few issues there and my grandma looked after me the last few years of high school before I went to the Broncos,” he said. “She’s helped me with so much, along with Wayne.
“It’s good that I have people like that in my life because I don’t have too many people I can turn to, to get advice.”
So what was the clincher in choosing Newcastle?
“One day it just clicked in my head that if I went back home, it wouldn’t be for the right reasons,” Boyd said.
“I’d basically been trying to talk myself into it.
“I’d been sort of talking it up to friends and family, trying to convince myself it would be the right move for me. But I want to get better as a player and as a person too and, in the end, I know I can do better with Wayne here in Newcastle.
“Growing up as a kid, I was never a spectacular footy player but I think I’ve improved as I’ve got older and I still want to improve more.
“Wayne’s a big part of that. He can just get the best out of his players and I still want to learn and get better and I just think I can do that under him.”
The bond goes all the way back to 2006 (6 years ago now), when Boyd started out at the then Bennett coached Broncos, as an 18-year old.
Immediately, Bennett became the father figure for Boyd during his time at the Broncos, as he guided him towards success both on and off the field.
“I was only young and there were times when my form wasn’t up to scratch,” Boyd admitted.
“But he still stuck by me. Encouraged me. I guess he just saw something in me back then. I’ve never forgotten that.”
The bond resulted in two premierships for Boyd – 1 in his debut year, and the other in 2010 with the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The aim now, is to win a third premiership, with Boyd excited about what the season will bring, and the expectation that will come with it.
“With Wayne here, I can understand it (the expectation),” Boyd said.
“Wherever he goes, he takes that winning culture with him, so a lot of people will be expecting a lot.
“But Wayne never promises anything – you can’t in this competition.
“Things are going good. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all pans out.”