Western Bulldogs star Tom Boyd could walk away from the AFL after his brilliant grand final performance and his mega-trade from Greater Western Sydney would still be worth every penny.
“He can graduate, throw his hat in the air and never come back and play another game – he was unbelievable,” coach Luke Beveridge replied when asked if his side’s stunning 22-point win over Sydney was something of a graduation for Boyd.
Of course, the Dogs will be looking for a much bigger return on their multi-million dollar investment, but any doubts over the bold move two years ago were removed by Boyd’s starring role against the Swans.
With the club in disarray at the end of 2014, the Bulldogs’ audacious move to lure the No.1 draft pick was widely criticised.
Boyd had played nine games at the time and was only 19 years old, yet was signed to a seven-year contract worth upwards of $6 million.
In return, the Giants received disgruntled Bulldogs skipper Ryan Griffen and the No.6 draft pick, which they used on key position prospect Caleb Marchbank, who has since requested a trade to Carlton.
With the Dogs also paying some of Griffen’s contract to boot, the deal looked lopsided.
But Boyd’s standout display against the Swans – which included three goals, six big contested marks and third spot in the Norm Smith Medal voting – fully vindicated the faith shown in him.
“I’m really glad that I was able to play my role and have some sort of influence,” Boyd said on Sunday.
“But if someone had told me before the game that I could have no touches and we’d win the flag it would probably be worth it.”
Beveridge has bemoaned intense media interest around his high-profile recruit, saying he was still a young man finding his way in the game.
But Boyd didn’t do himself any favours when he was suspended by the club in June for a physical altercation with teammate Zaine Cordy.
If a week is a long time in footy then several months is an eternity.
“I’m just so happy for him with all of the external pressure that’s come his way through nothing that was in his control,” Beveridge said.
“I challenge anyone to knock back the contract we offered him – you wouldn’t.
“We talk about what’s going to happen with him as he progresses at AFL level with his physical capability … he’s going to continue to blossom.
“When we needed our players to find their very best performance he found his in a grand final – it was amazing.”