DARIUS Boyd insists he is content with his decision to retire from State of Origin and says not even the departure of Valentine Holmes can convince him to embark on a Queensland comeback this season.
One of Queensland’s most decorated players, Boyd stunned the code when he dropped a retirement bombshell last year, quitting the Maroons just a fortnight after he was overlooked for the 2018 series opener at the MCG.
To some, it was a hasty move, especially after Queensland flyer Holmes announced in November he was quitting the NRL to roll the dice in American Football, instantly creating a vacancy for the wing position Boyd once occupied in the Maroons’ set-up.
Boyd played 23 of his 28 Origin games on the flank for Queensland, scoring 17 tries, and his experience would be welcome for a Queensland team plotting revenge in 2019 after last year’s 2-1 series loss to the Blues.
The Broncos skipper has enjoyed a smoother pre-season in recent months, finally overcoming the hamstring injuries that plagued his build-up to the 2018 campaign.
But despite the renewed confidence in his body and the loss of Holmes, Boyd is not planning an Origin renaissance, admitting fierce speculation over his omission last year was the final straw for his magnificent Queensland career.
“I’m happy with my decision (to retire from representative football), I won’t be going back,” said Boyd, who played his final game for the Maroons in Game Two of the 2017 series – the same match that also spelled the end for champion Queensland teammate Johnathan Thurston.
“The decision was basically just being grateful for everything I achieved with Queensland.
“I don’t feel like I need to achieve anymore at that level.
“I wasn’t picked for the first game (last year) and I said to ‘Kevvie’ (coach Kevin Walters) that was fine – I understood I wasn’t playing my best.
“But with what followed – the hype around my omission and the negativity over me being picked or not picked – I didn’t need that.
“I was already appreciative of what I achieved in that arena so I thought, ‘I’m too old for this stuff, I don’t need this (speculation) in my life anymore, football is not the be-all and end-all’.
“That’s the way I’ve looked at it the last few years, so I am very comfortable with rep retirement.”
Boyd lauded the courage of Holmes in attempting to crack the NFL, but says the Maroons have plenty of options to replace the Cronulla sensation.
“Corey Oates, Kalyn Ponga, Dane Gagai and Kyle Feldt – there’s a heap of outside backs coming through, so Queensland are in good hands,” he said.
“Personally, it’s exciting seeing Val giving it a crack. If he makes it in America, it’s something that needs to be celebrated. It’s a huge risk to give up something here and do something you haven’t done before.
“It’s a brave thing. He is at the peak of his powers in the NRL, as Jarryd Hayne was when he left (to play for the San Francisco 49ers), and he will go over there not on huge money, leaving everything he knows to be at the bottom of the pile over there in the NFL.
“It is a massive gamble, and that’s why a lot of people don’t do it. But Val wanted to challenge himself so good luck to him.”
Boyd’s contribution to the Maroons cannot be understated.
Only Greg Inglis has scored more tries in the code’s toughest arena, with the 31-year-old Boyd having scored in 13 Origin matches, including four doubles, starting with a brace in a dream debut in 2008 as the Maroons flogged NSW 30-0 at Suncorp Stadium.
Boyd also celebrated his high point, unseating brilliant fullback Billy Slater to wear the prized No.1 jersey in four games in 2016-17.
“I will definitely miss Origin,” he says. “It was a special part of my life. I was there for 10 years, and have some incredible memories.
“But in saying that, I felt like I got better at the back-end of last year for the Broncos, whether that was getting my confidence back or not having to worry about Origin and its demands.
“When Origin is on, you do miss it. But long-term, not playing it will be good for my career with the Broncos as well.”
Boyd is contracted to the Broncos until the end of 2021 and is confident his battle-weary frame can survive beyond this season.
“My body feels good,” he said.
“I don’t put pressure on myself. If I play three more years or not, I’m happy to see how each year goes.
“Pre-season is so important, you need the work under your belt because it’s a long season and the NRL is getting harder and harder.
“I guess you never say never about retirement, but I definitely want to see out my contract. I’m not planning on retiring from the Broncos anytime soon, that’s for sure.”