Why Boyd doubted Broncos' credentials
Looking out of the open window as he rode the exercise bike – again – as part of the rehab for his Achilles tendon injury at Brisbane's Red Hill training headquarters, Darius Boyd didn't like everything he was seeing.
Having returned to the club where he made his debut after six years at the Dragons and Knights with Wayne Bennett, Boyd's return to the Broncos' 17 was delayed by a pre-season injury in December that had many initially questioning whether he would play any part in 2015.
Recovery from an Achilles injury can take as long as nine months but Boyd applied himself to getting back as quickly as possible and with a program high performance manager Jeremy Hickmans said went "pretty much perfect" was back on the field after just five months.
Many of those mornings of solitude were spent on the exercise bike watching his teammates train and prepare for the upcoming season, with Boyd timing his sessions on the pedals so that the pain of not being out there with the team could further drive his recovery.
Like many – including his coach – the 28-year-old thought as he watched on helplessly that there was much work to be done before the Broncos would be appearing in another grand final.
"I'm a pretty harsh critic and I thought we still had a long way to go still to get to this position," Boyd told NRL.com.
"There are always things you need to improve but even without that first game (a 36-6 loss to the Rabbitohs in Round 1) I thought it was going to take time and I thought it would take a lot longer than it has to be honest.
"Especially with Wayne coming in and changing things and doing what he likes to do and getting everyone around that and getting all the new players.
"[Anthony] Milford in a key position and changing positions, I'm so amazed at how well he's done in such a short time.
"To the team's credit they've really come along in leaps and bounds the last six weeks.
"The last four weeks of the season we had a really tough run with plenty of quality teams to play and I think that really set us up.
"They were like finals games and the last two games in the finals I feel like we've lifted."
The turnaround in Boyd's life particularly off the field has been nothing short of extraordinary over the past 18 months.
It started with the horrible injury to close friend Alex McKinnon and subsequent treatment at a mental health facility for a form of adjustment depression, yet in November to announce his return to Brisbane he appeared to be a changed man.
Fulfilling media commitments by no means comes easy but more than ever Boyd has been able to show publicly the persona that those closest to him have been so protective of.
The episode of Australian Story detailing Boyd's life – 'Battling the Blues' – provided a heart-wrenching insight into his upbringing and now here is preparing for a third grand final with a week-old baby daughter.
"It's definitely been a good week for me. I'm really enjoying it and I'll enjoy it a lot more once the season finishes," Boyd said of his early days of fatherhood.
"On and off the field it's a great change from a year ago. Very excited and hopefully it's going to continue.
"I wanted to test myself to see if I could get back and play good footy again.
"It was my first serious injury so I wasn't really sure how my body would return and how I would cope mentally and physically.
"There were a lot of unknowns but I just wanted to get back as quick as possible and prove to myself that I could do it."