Darius Boyd has hailed Brisbane centre Tom Opacic’s defensive impact and says the rookie’s stunning breakout NRL season has taken him by surprise.
Opacic, 21, is coming off arguably the best game of his seven-match career, in which he scored two tries in the Broncos’ 26-16 win over Melbourne.
But it was more his work in defence – and in his victorious one-on-one battle with Maroons and Kangaroos star Will Chambers – that caught the eye of Boyd and his teammates.
“I didn’t know a lot about Tommy when he first came into the team,” Boyd said.
“I played a bit with him in the Nines over in New Zealand at the start of the year and he did a good job there.
“He’s really calm for his age and I think his defence speaks for itself, some of the decisions he’s made there next to Milf (Anthony Milford) and Oatesy (Corey Oates).
“I notice it at training myself. He’s really good at reading (the opposition).
“There were a couple of times on the weekend he came in when he really needed to and solved it for us. As a young kid, it’s all you can ask for.”
Opacic’s form has caught the attention of rival clubs, but the Broncos have extended his contract at Red Hill to keep him until at least the end of 2017.
Brisbane face the Sydney Roosters on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium, and need a win to keep their chances of a top-four finish alive.