Kearney backs Boyd as captain
New Zealand Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has backed Wayne Bennett's decision to make Darius Boyd the Broncos' captain, describing the Queensland fullback as 'courageous' and a 'wonderful leader'.
Kearney has history with both Bennett and Boyd, coaching the Kiwis to a World Cup victory with Bennett in 2008, before joining Brisbane as an assistant coach in 2013.
Although not at the club in 2013, Bennett and Boyd returned to the Broncos from the Newcastle Knights in 2015, with Bennett keeping Kearney on Brisbane's coaching staff.
The two experienced coaches had immediate success when reunited, helping guide their side to a grand final appearance that year.
But for Kearney, this success was almost overshadowed by what he saw in his team's fullback.
Boyd's development on and off the field in the two years he was with Kearney at the club was, and still is, quite extraordinary.
A quiet, shy and stubborn Boyd transformed before Kearney's eyes, turning into a courageous and mature leader who will now captain one of the biggest sporting clubs in Australia.
Kearney has since departed the Broncos to take on a full-time head coaching role with the Warriors, but said Boyd, who entered rehab for depression in 2014, has been rewarded for his amazing turnaround.
"He's a wonderful leader and he'll be a great captain for the Broncos. His journey has been something else," Kearney said.
"Darius is now the premier fullback in the game. It's a credit to him that he's managed to get himself back on track and sort out all of his off-field issues.
"Two years ago we wouldn't have been talking about him in the same way so that shows how far he has come.
"It's taken him a lot of courage to get out of that dark space and I admire that.
"From my personal experience, Darius has a wonderful knowledge of the game and he's a real leader amongst the Broncos."
Boyd will be in charge of a Brisbane side many fancy to be premiership favourites, with their backline looking the best it has in years and their forward pack boasting a huge amount of depth.
The inclusion of David Mead from the Gold Coast Titans will allow one of the Broncos' most underrated backs to make a permanent move to the centres.
Jordan Kahu has been Brisbane's Mr Fix-it since making his NRL debut in 2013, filling in anywhere in the Broncos' backline because of his world-class versatility.
But that will all change this year, and Kearney, who coached Kahu at both the Broncos and at an international level, said the 26-year-old will take his game to another level if he is given a full season in his best position – the centres.
"Jordan is a very good fullback, but he's as equally as good in the centres," he said.
"I think we will definitely see the best of him this year because he will be able to play in one position all season.
"The centres would be my preferred spot for him. Everyone who plays with him rates him and I think that's all that matters."