Monday Buzz: Brisbane’s No.1 problem won’t go away
There is not a sadder sight in rugby league than watching a great old player struggling at the back end of his career.
That's why it was almost a relief rather than sadness when Greg Inglis recently retired with two years remaining on his contract.
This column is about veteran Brisbane Broncos fullback and captain Darius Boyd and his form this year in the opening eight rounds of the competition.
Boyd was signed to a four-year contract before the start of last season. He turns 32 in July.
To put it bluntly, Boyd is no longer in the same ballpark as the best fullbacks.
Not compared to James Tedesco, Tom Trbojevic (when he's fit), Kalyn Ponga or Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, the Dally M champion.
Yet he has three years to run on his $800,000-a-season Broncos contract.
It was a massive mistake by Wayne Bennett to sign him for that length of time.
(Mind you, signing Anthony Milford on $1 million a year was even worse.)
This is a difficult one for new coach Anthony Seibold to manage because Boyd and Bennett have been as close as a father and son.
The last thing Seibold needs right now is any combat with his captain.
It is a delicate column to write because Boyd has developed so nicely as a person in recent years.
How he has overcome mental health issues is an inspiration to us all.
This guy was a great player in his day. He played 23 Tests for the Kangaroos and 28 State of Origins for the Maroons.
Right now, Boyd is struggling at a time when the Broncos, with such a youthful side, need a great leader. There have been times this year where his defence has been terrible.
Even his contests for the ball against South Sydney on Thursday night lacked energy.
That's a nice way of saying he didn't put his body on the line in his 300th game when Cody Walker scored two tries from kicks.
Boyd is having a dig but father time eventually catches up with all footballers.
The statistics tell an interesting story.
If you look at 2017 to 2019, Boyd has only eight tries, 14 linebreaks and 24 try assists in 53 games.
In that same period, Trbojevic has 24 tries, 50 linebreaks and 42 try assists (47 games), while Tedesco has 19 tries, 40 linebreaks and 30 try assists (53 games).
Boyd this year has career-low numbers for tackle busts (1.6 per game) and linebreaks (only one in eight games). His two try assists in eight games (0.3 per game) are his lowest since 2009.
So where does this story go? Does a conversation need to be had about an early exit strategy?
Do they look at another option at fullback and move Boyd to the wing, centre or even five-eighth?
With six losses from eight games, the pressure is building every week north of the border.
This is a football side many tipped to make the top four. At the moment the Broncos are more likely bottom four.
And the future and form of Boyd is just one of many issues that need to be addressed.