Boyle's belief grows after concussion scare
Few footballers understand the precious uncertainty of brain injuries like Titans rookie Morgan Boyle.
When he was just 14 years of age Morgan's father, Canberra Raiders legend David Boyle, suffered a blow to the head while working on the family farm in Cobargo near Bega in New South Wales' south-east, lay prone for six hours before being found and was later placed into an induced coma.
He spent four months in a brain injury rehabilitation clinic in Sydney to not only re-learn the most simple of tasks but also the names of his wife and children.
So when Morgan suffered concussions in successive weeks while playing for Tweed Heads in the Intrust Super Cup earlier this season he ignored the advice of his teammates and instead listened to the Titans' club doctor and spent two weeks on the sidelines.
He says that the thought of what his father went through in 2010 never really entered his mind but watching Will Smith in 'Concussion' – a Hollywood film highlighting the effect brain injuries has had on players in the NFL – whilst sitting out was a not an altogether soothing way to recover.
"I watched that movie 'Concussion' and I was like 'Geez, all these people are killing themselves'," Boyle recalled after starring from the bench in the Titans' extraordinary 38-36 win over Melbourne on Saturday night.
"I watched it while I was out. It was pretty hectic."
Standing at an imposing 193 centimetres, Boyle says the concussions he has suffered have not come from being hit in the head as such but by the tops of opposition players' heads crashing into the bottom of his jaw.
With 19-year-old Max King handed an NRL spot early in the year Boyle said he was more motivated to earn an NRL debut of his own but that he wasn't going to rush back until he knew – in his own mind – that he was fit to take the field.
"You've got your brain for the rest of your life so the doctor sat me out which was probably a good decision and it made me more keen to prove my spot," said Boyle, who ran for 181 metres in 57 minutes against Melbourne.
"All the boys go, 'Tell her you're fine' but she really could see that I wasn't fine so it was probably the right decision.
"The old man had a bit of a brain injury on the farm working and I wasn't relating it to that but no one can predict what the brain's like."
With little experience to support them early in the season Ryan James and Jarrod Wallace were forced to punch out big minutes in the opening rounds for Gold Coast but according to James the contributions from the bench of Boyle, Leivaha Pulu and Paterika Vaivai has been key in their three-game winning streak.
"We've expected a lot from him and Patty Vaivai for the last two weeks," James said of Boyle's growing role within the squad.
"Jarrod Wallace went off with a head knock last game and that gave both of them a lot of game-time and I think they both learnt a lot from that last game.
"'Boyley' went out there [against Melbourne] and played a lot of minutes and he was strong.
"He had strong carries, he does good little things around the ball that most people probably don't see and Patty Vaivai's post-contact metres are second to none.
"They've been excellent for us and our bench has definitely been a turning point for us the last three weeks."
Given how quickly he has slotted into the Titans' NRL line-up since his NRL debut in Round 6 against the club where his father made his name, Boyle says he must heed the advice of others at the club and start to believe that he belongs in such company.
"I feel a lot more comfortable before games just knowing my simple role," said Boyle.
"Just don't try and do too many big things, just do your little things and the playmakers will come off that.
"'Dark' (James) and 'J-Wall' (Wallace) and 'Peatsy' (Nathan Peats) have been helping me, running back into the line and saying little things like 'one more tackle' or 'we need you to get to four'. Simple stuff like that talking in my ear that's making my job a lot easier.
"Everyone in the club has put a lot of belief in me and saying that I can do it, that I've just got to believe in myself.
"They say, 'You're a big enough and a strong enough young lad'.
"I'm slowly getting it through my head."