Boyd next in line to join Qld legends

A group of Queensland Origin legends has anointed Dragons fullback Darius Boyd next in line to join the ranks of the Maroons’ greats.Since moving from Brisbane to St George Illawarra with coach Wayne Bennett at the end of the 2008 season, Boyd has made the leap from solid first-grader to bona fide superstar. And a standout performance in this year’s Origin series has only underlined the 22-year-old’s rise.Playing on the wing of what is arguably the greatest Origin team of all time, Boyd has scored eight tries in as many games for his state, including one in each of the past six. Full coverage of the Dragons “He’s a wonderful player,” former Queensland hooker Steve Walters said.”He was always a handy player at the Broncos, but at the Dragons he’s been fantastic.”He is just a top quality player and he has cemented his spot among the best in the game.”The intensity of Origin can make or break a player’s career.Young players can either be overawed and outclassed or thrive on the competition.Former St George Illawarra and Maroons centre Mark Coyne – part of the Queensland coaching staff – said Boyd was definitely among those who rose to the occasion.”Once you come into Origin, you can just blossom,” he said. “His form at fullback this year has been outstanding and he is leading a lot of the Player of the Year voting.”He’s a quiet guy but he has been playing great footy.”Another factor in Boyd’s rapid rise has been the influence of master coach Bennett, who brought the Gold Coast junior into first grade in 2006 at the age of 18. Test forward Sam Thaiday, a team-mate of Boyd’s at the time, said Bennett’s guidance was key.”He gives you a lot of confidence to be the player you want to be,” Thaiday said. “He is good at critiquing players and helping them out.””Darius has grown so much as a player and as a person. It was a good move following Wayne down to the Dragons.”A feature of Boyd’s game this year has been his determined charges into the defensive line on kick returns. The seemingly self-destructive nature of these runs is a result of a more confident footballer, physically and mentally.”Last year was only his first full year at fullback,” said Dragons conditioner Jeremy Hickmans, who rated Boyd the club’s fittest player. “He now has the confidence of playing that position. … he is quick, powerful and fit.”While clearly blessed, Boyd doesn’t rest on his laurels. “He’s obviously got the genetics for it. But he also has a great application for what he does,” Hickmans said.”As far as work ethic goes, Darius is one of the best. He really leads from the front … ” With more than 100 first grade games under his belt, Boyd could be considered a veteran, but the best was yet to come, according to his Queensland and Test captain, Darren Lockyer.”People forget how young he is. He plays like an experienced campaigner but he is a still a kid.”His form for the Dragons this year has shown that he has moved to the next level,” Lockyer said.
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