Seibold bows to Broncos’ Boyd demands
Brisbane's most influential stars have demanded Darius Boyd's selection for the NRL premiership in an emphatic sign the axed skipper retains the support of the Broncos dressing-room.
Player power has sealed Boyd's immediate future at Red Hill, with several Broncos teammates urging coach Anthony Seibold to back the 32-year-old for Brisbane's planned premiership fightback this season.
The Broncos will unveil their 30-man full-time squad at Thursday's season launch and Seibold will rubberstamp the sentiments of his troops by naming Boyd at left centre for their Round 1 blockbuster against the Cowboys.
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Boyd will play his 318th top-grade match in Townsville Friday week and is on the cusp of surpassing his former Maroons teammates Billy Slater (319) and Johnathan Thurston (323) in the NRL's elite 300-game club.
But when Boyd was stripped of the captaincy by Seibold in an off-season shake-up following Brisbane's 58-0 finals loss to Parramatta, there were fears he would start this season in the Intrust Super Cup.
Enter the Brisbane playing group.
News Corp understands several players, including Alex Glenn, Anthony Milford and David Fifita, privately pushed for Boyd to be retained, insisting he had the respect of his peers and offered invaluable on-field experience.
That experience extends to his defensive communication directing Milford and Fifita, who defended on Brisbane's left edge alongside Boyd when he was shifted from fullback to five-eighth last season.
Boyd has copped savage criticism over the past 12 months with calls for him to retire, but Seibold told News Corp internal support for the former skipper remained strong.
"Darbs will play left centre, he's had a tremendous pre-season," Seibold said.
"The guys want him in the team because of his communication and how he helps guys like David Fifita defensively.
"We have a very young group age-wise and only two players in our squad who have won premierships, and Darius is one of those guys.
"He has done it (won titles) at two different clubs, so he brings confidence to our group.
"He is a really good fit for left centre, I really do believe that. He's been our best by a distance at left centre in the pre-season, he's done a good job."
Boyd cannot afford to start slowly. He was disappointing in last week's trial loss to the Titans, with former British Test centre Kallum Watkins outpacing him to set up a Gold Coast try before Boyd dropped a sitter in the second half.
Boyd last month told News Corp he was relishing the competition for spots, with young guns Jesse Arthars, Xavier Coates and Herbie Farnworth gunning for more NRL action.
"I'll back myself," he said.
"There are some really talented young athletes in our group. The weights they are lifting and the times they are running is testing me. It's pushing me to keep up with them and better myself.
"I have always been one of the fitter guys in the group. I pride myself on my fitness and the speed work I do in the gym. I'm always very professional in my approach and I feel I've done that again this year."