On Tuesday the 22ndof July 2014, the game of Rugby League was again making headlines for the wrong reasons. This time it was the Newcastle Knights’ superstar fullback Darius Boyd in the gun, with allegations emerging that the Queensland and Australian winger had been holidaying at a luxury Hunter Valley resort with his wife, and had caused damages to the room to the tune of $1500 – the most notable being a smashed television. Not what the game needed, adding to what can only be described as the year from hell.
Almost immediately, news outlets all over the country were covering the story; social media was rife with the usual nonsense we see day, in day out. The shy kid from the Gold Coast was being hounded.
Less than 24 hours later, Boyd was again making the front covers, with the Knights confirming the fullback had checked in to a Sydney mental health facility to receive treatment for an ongoing battle with depression. Knights CEO Matt Gidley released a statement on behalf of Boyd and the club:
“We are ensuring Darius (Boyd) is getting the best possible care he can at the moment,” Gidley said.
“Depression is a serious illness in our society and we are very pleased that Darius has taken the first steps in his recovery by acknowledging he needs help.”
It’s easy to sit back behind our keyboards or on our lounge chairs, cast aspersions over our morning coffees while we flick through our newspapers, passing comments on people that we don’t really even know. Unfortunately for Darius Boyd, he very seldom does himself any favours with some less than enlightening interviews, and most recently the now infamous “heard about Wayne Bennett”confrontation with a Channel Seven reporter in the driveway of a Brisbane hotel post-Origin III. So the question is, if the guy doesn’t like talking, why talk to him?
Depression is a serious illness, and we should applaud Darius Boyd for having the courage to do what he is doing. It takes tremendous character and bravery to tackle our demons, so give the guy a break. Perhaps the reporter harassing him as he was trying to pack his bags into his car, after an impressive performance for the Maroons the previous night, should have tried a different approach; maybe something like: “congratulations on a great win, and also for equalling Greg Inglis’ record of 15 Origin tries”. Maybe congratulate him on a victory instead of antagonising him, annoying him and making him out to be a fool; his downfall is becoming a bigger story than his triumphs.
On the back of Wayne Bennett announcing he would be leaving the Knights to return to his spiritual home, the Brisbane Broncos, questions had already been asked about Boyd’s future. It’s no secret that Wayne has been somewhat of a father figure to Darius Boyd, with the classy fullback following him on a journey that has seen them pair up at three clubs together, claiming premierships on the way at Brisbane and St George Illawarra.
A thankful Wayne Bennett has stressed his joy in the comfort of Boyd receiving treatment.
“I’m pleased that Darius has recognised he has a problem,” Bennett said.
“It’s a self admission one, he came to the conclusion himself. He booked himself in in Sydney”.
A truly honest comment from Bennett, but also very humbling in the sense that he never mentioned football; he only commended Darius on taking the steps to get himself better mentally.
The game of Rugby League will grow remarkably if fans and the media gave the players the support they need from time to time. I know players are not perfect. You only have to look at the Todd Carney incident recently – Sharks fans have the right to express their anger and disappointment, the guy has had numerous chances. But in the case of Darius Boyd, the circumstances are different. He needs our support.
No matter what club you follow, or even if you don’t follow Rugby League at all, we need to step back and appreciate the seriousness of Boyd’s condition. Depression is a form of mental Illness, an illness you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy. Rather than kick the guy when he’s down, we should applaud him for taking the steps to bettering himself, so sooner rather than later we can see this superstar back where he belongs – on the field!
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