The Brisbane Broncos’ 2015 campaign is on tenterhooks following widespread reports star fullback recruit Darius Boyd has snapped his Achilles tendon at training and could be set to miss the entire season.
The Courier-Mail said that Boyd “crashed to the turf in agony” during a routine training drill early this morning.
The representative veteran was sent away for scans to determine the extent of the injury, which usually has a 3-4 month recovery, but can result anywhere between six and nine months on the sidelines. Broncos teammate Justin Hodges missed all of 2010 after suffering a torn Achilles in the pre-season, while he returned to the field eight months after snapping the other Achilles late in 2013.
An extended injury-enforced break would be a terrible blow for Boyd, who has made enormous strides in his troubled personal life in recent times and even appeared to have patched up his frosty relationship with the media following his return to Brisbane.
The prospect of being without Boyd also creates a massive headache for Wayne Bennett. The returning supercoach released high-profile fullbacks Josh Hoffman (Gold Coast) and Ben Barba (Cronulla) to rival clubs, declaring Boyd his man for the No.1 jumper, but he nevertheless remained circumspect about the injury.
“It’s the achilles. My initial thought is that’s footy, that’s life, we get on with it,” Bennett told Newscorp reporters.
“I just saw Darius on the ground, he’s done his Achilles, so that’s the bottom line, it’s a six-month injury and we have to get on with life.
“They were just doing a simple training drill, we call them shuttles, and Darius did a turn and that’s as simple as it will be. It’s no-one’s fault, it just happens.
“There’s nothing we can do now. If you do enough training in life, things like that will happen.”
Although another recruit, Anthony Milford, is one of the most devastating fullback options in the NRL – starting 25 of his 43 games for Canberra there and scoring 13 tries – Bennett would be reticent to move him from five-eighth, with quality No.6 options thin on the ground at Red Hill.
Former Castleford, Huddersfield and Hull KR fullback Greg Eden suddenly comes into the frame for the Broncos’ custodian role after arriving at the club during the off-season, while Lachlan Maranta and Hodges are potential stopgap options.
“We have a team of players, we are flying, it’s no dramas. I wish it didn’t happen but it’s happened,” Bennett said.
“Halfway through the season he will be back playing for us, we’ll manage it while he’s away and get on with life.”
Some have already anointed Hodges as Boyd’s logical replacement, and although the club has a few three-quarter options if Hodges does drop back, there has to be some doubts over whether the 32-year-old’s dodgy legs can handle the extra miles the fullback spot entails.
Kodi Nikorima, also a highly-rated pivot, was fullback for the Broncos NYC team that reached this year’s grand final, but assuming the key position at NRL level may be beyond the 20-year-old at this stage.
There are some real idiots out there. Exhitbit A:
Darius Boyd’s Achilles is suffering depression
— #WalkerStreetRedfern (@thebenzed) December 5, 2014