Two years after checking out of a mental health clinic Darius Boyd believes he is ready to lead the next generation of Brisbane Broncos, and one of the club's greatest ever leaders agrees.
Boyd was named the winner of the Paul Morgan Medal at the Broncos' awards night on Friday but prior to taking to the stage to accept the award Boyd was said to be a future captain of the club by coach Wayne Bennett, a statement endorsed by Darren Lockyer who captained the Broncos 162 times in his 355-game career at the club.
"I think he's one of the leading contenders," Lockyer told NRL.com.
"There are other candidates out there but given his history at the club, given his reputation and what he's done in the game and after his last 12 months as a Bronco you'd be hard pressed to say that there is a better candidate."
With incumbent skipper Corey Parker calling time on his 347-game career Bennett hinted at what might be to come when Boyd captained the team in their 30-10 win over the Rabbitohs in Round 19.
The Queensland and Kangaroos fullback was only told on the morning of the game that he would be leading the side out onto ANZ Stadium but believes he is now in a position in his career where he could on the responsibility on a permanent basis.
"I don't know if I'll ever feel fully comfortable but if I did get it it would be a massive honour," Boyd told NRL.com.
"I'm doing all the right things on the field and off the field but I don't know if I'll ever be 'ready ready'.
"When I captained the team one time Wayne didn't ask me he just told me and I didn't really know how to take it. We were having a stretching session and Wayne told everyone and that's how I found out myself.
"It was after an Origin game and I did find myself trying to play a bit better and lead the team around I suppose as a captain is meant to do.
"It still feels a bit awkward but I do enjoy it."
The man who was renowned for his awkward indifference towards the media for the first part of his career has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past two years.
His return to Brisbane for the 2015 season was interrupted by a pre-season Achilles tendon injury and the 29-year-old said it took until this year to be able to take on more of a leadership role within the club.
"I had to work at it and it still doesn't come naturally now to be honest," said Boyd, who will be in Perth this week for the Kangaroos' clash with New Zealand on Saturday night.
"Being injured didn't help. I missed the whole pre-season and getting to know the boys and feeling a part of the group, I missed all that.
"Coming in mid-year I had to find my spot in the team and play well and get some confidence but having a good pre-season this year and being more comfortable in a leadership role and trying to take on a bit more responsibility, I've enjoyed it."
The departure of Parker 12 months after Justin Hodges retired has stripped the Broncos of almost 600 games of experience in a short space of time and created the opportunity for the likes of Jai Arrow, Jonus Pearson, Tom Opacic, Jonus Pearson, Tevita Pangai and Jaydn Su'a to all make their NRL debuts this season.
After making his own debut a decade ago in Brisbane's last premiership-winning season, Boyd brought up his 100th game for the club in Round 9 against Cronulla and is excited about the prospect of ushering in the next generation of Broncos into the top grade.
"I never thought I'd get to a hundred," said Boyd, who with stints at St George Illawarra and Newcastle has played a total of 247 NRL games.
"I kept changing clubs and obviously Brisbane was a favourite of mine as a child and never thought I'd get to come back. Very grateful to be able to come back and hopefully I can finish my career here.
"A lot of things have changed but definitely for the better and they wouldn't have without the support of my wife, friends and family and obviously the clinic as well.
"We had a lot of debutants this year through injury and Origin and they'll be better for the run.
"I thought most of them played really well considering they had only played a handful of games and were quite young as well.
"They'll be better next year and it's exciting for the club. There are some good prospects coming through and I think we've got a good mix of guys with enough experience that we can blood these guys and still perform really highly."