Bennett: Pick Boyd at fullback
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett has called for Darius Boyd to retain the job of Queensland Maroons fullback after another solid performance from the Broncos No.1.
Boyd outplayed incumbent New South Wales Blues fullback James Tedesco in the Broncos' 36-0 drubbing of the Wests Tigers on Friday night, giving Queensland coach Kevin Walters quite the headache heading into Monday's Maroons team announcement.
With Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater fit and firing after missing the 2016 Holden State of Origin series through injury, Walters will have a tough decision in front of him.
One advantage of having Slater at the back is the fact Boyd can slot straight onto the left wing, a position where he has played majority of his 26 Origin matches.
But for Bennett the choice is simple, with the veteran coach saying Boyd's reliability and playmaking prowess is unrivalled in the game.
"Darius Boyd should be the Queensland fullback in my opinion. I love what he brings," Bennett said.
"We've all seen him at an international level now and we saw him at an Origin level last year.
"Billy's a wonderful player so they have to make a decision. They play different games.
"Billy's still great. He's still got lots of ability, but you only have to go back to last year's Origin series to find what you're looking for.
"The amount of tries Darius set up in really tight situations in tight games. He does that particular pattern of play better than anybody else.
"The ability he has to come from the back to do what he does it the difference in the modern game between winning and losing tight games.
"He's safe. There are no mistakes from him. Look at the statistics from this year and see how many mistakes he's made this year, both defensively and offensively"
The statistics tell a story of Boyd's reliability; with the Australian fullback having only made three errors in the 11 games he has played this year.
This, combined with the fact he has only missed eight tackles this season, gives him a statistical advantage over Slater.
Slater has made nine errors in eight games this year and has missed 21 tackles in that same period.
Although Slater's numbers are not high, what they do highlight is just how dependable Boyd is.
The 29-year-old is set to be one of up to six Broncos who are selected to play Origin, with five-eighth Anthony Milford another in contention.
With Johnathan Thurston racing the clock to be fit, there is a real chance that Milford will be called into Queensland's squad.
The idea is that Milford would act as a shadow player for Thurston, only playing if the Cowboys' star half does not recover from a shoulder injury.
If this were the case, there would be a very real chance that Milford would spend a week in camp and not play come Game One on May 31st at Suncorp Stadium.
It means Milford would miss Brisbane's Round 12 clash with the Warriors in Auckland, and this is something that the Broncos cannot afford.
It's why Bennet will try to block Milford from entering Queensland camp unless he is guaranteed a spot in the Maroons' 17, if not he will be on the plane to New Zealand with his Brisbane teammates.
"My position is extremely firm," he said of Milford's Origin availability.
"They've got Michael Morgan there. He's on the bench and is training with them. He's cover for Thurston.
"We've got a game to play in Auckland next week. That's our priority."
These thoughts are echoed by Milford's Brisbane teammate Adam Blair, with the front-row forward telling media that he expects Thurston to play.
"No. We need Milford. He's not going anywhere," Blair said after his 250th NRL match.
"He's in great form but I'm sure 'JT' is going to play so we need Milford."