Mixed emotions in Boyd's Newcastle return
Kangaroos fullback Darius Boyd wasn't sure how he'd be received in his first game back at Hunter Stadium in almost two years.
Boyd spent three seasons (2012-14) at the Knights in a tumultuous period for the club, no incident more damaging than the career-ending injury to great mate Alex McKinnon.
Boyd has faced many demons in his time since leaving Newcastle and has undoubtedly come out the other side a better man for it.
It was a fact best demonstrated in his starring role in Australia's 16-0 win on Friday night – his first Test match since the corresponding fixture against New Zealand two years ago.
Speaking to NRL.com, Boyd said he was tentative about his return to Newcastle. Namely because of his angst over how he'd be received by the locals – the very same fans who were right behind him when he scored the first try of the Downer Test in the 11th minute.
"I had mixed emotions about coming back. Good and bad. I wasn't sure how they would react the fans but all week most of them I've interacted with were really great and positive which was good to see," Boyd said.
"It was good in a sense to come back and move past my first time being here since I left. To come back and play well for Australia was pretty nice overall.
"Newcastle were always great in their support of rugby league. In the couple of years I was here [the Knights] weren't necessarily doing our best but the town would still come out in support."
It's no accident that Australia ending their three-game losing streak coincided with Boyd's return from a two-year Kangaroos hiatus either.
In his 18 Tests, Boyd is yet to lose a single one. The 28-year-old has also been victorious in all 10 of his Tests against New Zealand.
The Mudgeeraba Redbacks junior was also buoyed to back the faith shown in him by new Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga.
"It was a bit of my goal of mine to get back into the Australia team," he said.
"There's a couple of reasons as to why I missed Tests in the past obviously and it's always disappointing to watch from the sidelines so I'm very happy to be back.
"They obviously could have picked anyone there, like Josh Dugan has been playing really well and everyone knows how good GI is, as too (James) Tedesco. There are so many good fullbacks in the NRL so I was stoked to get the nod," he added.
"I really wanted to play well too just so I could show Mal I deserved it. I was pretty happy with my game. We're always going to be in it as well if you can stop them from scoring."
Much has been said over Meninga's mission to restore pride in the Australian jumper as he embarks on his journey to put Test football back on the pedestal it deserves.
Boyd backed Meninga's reasoning with his insight proving it wasn't all a façade to drum up interest within the media and the public alike.
"We had a lot of meetings about what it meant to us to wear the jersey and how we wanted to be seen in the public eye and how we wanted to move forward as a group too," Boyd said.
"Fingers crossed everyone can stay fit and healthy so we can take this core group across to the UK [for the Four Nations at year's end]."