Boyd braces for maiden Bennett clash
The Kangaroos' upcoming Four Nations tournament will prove to be one of the biggest representative campaigns of Darius Boyd's career.
Boyd wants to lock up Australia's No. 1 jumper for the remainder of his career after being handed his first ever chance at the Queensland Origin No. 1 jumper in 2016 and subsequently starring for the Maroons.
One of many men standing in Boyd's way however is England coach Wayne Bennett – the only NRL mentor Boyd has ever known.
Since Boyd's 2006 debut – and through two stints at the Broncos and separate runs at the Dragons and Knights – Bennett has been by the 29-year-old's side.
Not that Boyd needs any extra motivation.
The plethora of New South Welshmen fullback options, the fellow Queenslanders nipping at his heels and the impending return of Storm superstar Billy Slater from a devastating shoulder injury is keeping the 18-Test veteran on his toes.
"Without trying to put too much pressure on myself it's one of the more important representative campaigns of my career," Boyd told NRL.com.
"Matty Moylan is in this squad, James Tedesco should consider himself unlucky not to be here and Benny Barba has been playing well.
"Throw in Billy being back next year and we're not short of fullbacks going around. To play well and cement the No.1 jumper during the tour will set me up well for the future.
"Any time you're given a jersey is very special. But to be able to actually play fullback, the position I play week-in, week-out, is the motivation.
"I played well in all the rep games this year which I was even more proud about. You obviously want those jerseys but you also want to do a good job as well."
The highs and lows of Boyd's career have been well-documented in recent years and have ultimately led to the best individual season of his career – where he was awarded the Broncos' Paul Morgan Medal last Friday night.
It comes as no surprise that a big reason behind his exceptional form was the influence of mastercoach Bennett.
"I have had obviously a few different coaches in the representative arena but Wayne knows how I play better than anyone," Boyd said.
"When it comes to me returning kicks and my positional play, I'm sure he'll try to come up with a few little things to expose my weaknesses.
"People have asked whether I'd know the ins and outs of a Wayne-coached team," Boyd added. "But Test football is more than just certain individuals."