Replacing Boyd at Broncos a two-man job
Broncos veteran Justin Hodges has shied away from becoming the full-time custodian at Brisbane, instead suggesting that he and superstar recruit Anthony Milford could make a good fist of sharing the role.
Just weeks after the club farewelled fullbacks of the calibre of Ben Barba and Josh Hoffman, the Broncos were left reeling on Friday morning when Darius Boyd went down with a ruptured left achilles injury that will sideline him for between six to nine months.
The 27-year-old was completing regulation shuttle runs when the injury struck, coach Wayne Bennett left to rue the sometimes ironic nature of rugby league.
Starting the final three games of the 2014 season at fullback, Hodges' increased involvement injected new life into the Brisbane attack but the 32-year-old said that the physical demands of the position would prevent him from taking the No.1 jersey on a permanent basis.
"To do it 20 or 24 weeks of the year would be tough on the body," Hodges admitted at the launch of the 2015 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars on the Gold Coast.
"There are ways we can work around that. 'Milf' can go back and catch the balls and we can swap halfway through. I can defend in the line and that saves him tackling.
"I really enjoyed the role but it took longer to recover, there's a lot more running than if you're on one side in the centres.
"It does leave a big hole in the side, we'd prefer to have [Boyd] at the back but whatever Wayne comes up, we'll roll with that.
"We got rid of a few fullbacks. Darius is our No.1 choice but we have to rally around him and make sure he stays healthy. Whoever replaces him has to do the best job they can."
On Tuesday Hodges spoke with NRL.com about the change he had noticed in Boyd since his return to the Broncos and the positive influence he was having on younger members of the squad, a far cry from the recalcitrant Origin and Test star who stood himself down late in his final season at the Knights to seek treatment for depression.
"Over the last two weeks I've seen a big difference in him," Hodges told NRL.com. "He's a guy who has done a lot in our game and the biggest thing I've seen lately out on the training field and just helping the young backs, telling them things and helping them.
"Probably before that you wouldn't see 'Darbs' doing that but he's come back with a different attitude and I can't speak highly enough of the bloke so far."
While both Hodges and Bennett backed Boyd to return from this latest setback to contribute to the Broncos' 2015 campaign, Origin teammate Nate Myles said his primary concern was how the injury would affect Boyd as a person.
"The last thing I picked up on Darius was that he was in a really good mindset and I hope that his progression forward keeps going because he seems to be a much happier man and [the injury is] really not good for him as a person," Myles said.
"I'm not really bothered about the Broncos or Queensland, I'm more worried about him now."
Hodges returned from his second achilles injury in Round 5 this year and said Boyd's more positive outlook will be of great benefit has he begins the long road back, a road that in truth never reaches an end point.
"It's hard; the achilles has always been the worst one to come back from," said Hodges, who missed the entire 2010 season with his first achilles injury.
"There are days where you think you are going good and then you are back a few months. You don't get much bloodflow to the achilles so every day you wake up you are stiff. Even now, I'm in there stretching it out and getting it warmed up.
"It does change the way you run, it does come back stiff but that is the process of the operation. It takes ages to loosen up again, it's just a matter of working hard and it will fix itself. But you have to put the work in at home, the little things you do at the start make a difference in the end.
"Everyone has seen a different side to Darius. The way he has conducted himself over the last few weeks has been really good and he shouldn't lose anything from that. He should just worry about getting back on the field now."