Darius Boyd passes ultimate test

Even best mate Greg Inglis was sceptical.

Earning Queensland State of Origin selection just two NRL games back from serious injury was no mean feat.

But it seemed the true test of how far Darius Boyd had come still lay ahead – the once dreaded team media session.

Reporters had seen it all in the past.

Hiding behind plants. Lingering in staircases.

It appeared Boyd would try anything to avoid talking to reporters during the one-hour media window.

Then last year Boyd didn’t attend at all.

“Darius doesn’t really want to talk to the media and I am sure you guys don’t really want to talk to him,” a QRL media spokesman said before the 2014 game one team session.

Fast forward 12 months and Boyd claims to be a changed man.

Finally on top of the mental demons that had plagued him, Boyd launched a charm offensive upon his return to NRL club Brisbane this season.

Not even rupturing his Achilles just 10 days back at training could shatter Boyd’s new-found calm.

Five months of gruelling rehabilitation got him back on the field.

And Queensland selectors’ legendary loyalty got him into the Maroons team for the Origin series opener in Sydney on May 27.

Still cynics believed the big litmus test loomed for Boyd – the team media session in on Tuesday.

Flashbacks of Boyd’s infamous 2009 interview which lasted just 42 seconds before reporters gave up no doubt flickered among sceptics.

Even Inglis had to double check if Boyd would attend.

“I asked him at a lunch ‘are you going to go?’,” Inglis admitted.

“He just smiled at me and said ‘of course’.”

Then Boyd stood front and centre amid the swarming media, pressing the flesh and even indulging in small talk as he politely honoured each request for a solid hour.

“It’s a different feeling. I used to try and hide away and not do it,” Boyd said of the media session.

“I probably made myself worse by doing that.

“It’s not hard to talk about footy or life or things that are going on.

“I just looked at it the wrong way.

“I had the wrong mindset from an early age.

“I thought people were attacking me if I wasn’t doing well. Whatever it was, I couldn’t handle criticism – that was part of it.”

Boyd returned to Brisbane after a two-month sabbatical from the NRL in late 2014 in which he checked into a mental health facility for depression.

Following his mentor Wayne Bennett back to the club where he started his career – the Broncos – seemed to cap the healing process and the ruptured Achilles no longer seemed such a disaster.

“I don’t know how I would have handled it 12 months ago,” he said.

“I used to get pretty cranky with myself when I did a hammy and was out for two weeks.”

Boyd admitted Origin camp used to be one of the few things that got him by before he exorcised his personal demons.

These days Boyd is getting by with a little help from his friends – and he has been reunited again with plenty in the Origin camp.

“In other years not being in the best form or best head space I have really looked forward to these times,” he said of Origin camp.

“It’s a special group.”

Inglis is sure glad to have his “wingman” back.

“To see him (Boyd) back on his feet again and back in the Origin side…it just shows what a big turnaround he has in his life,” he said.

Inglis admitted he did not know how badly Boyd had been struggling mentally in the past but believed people were now seeing the man he’d known for years.

“Darius has changed tremendously, and he’s changed for the better,” he said.

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