Brisbane Broncos have been the team to beat in the National Rugby League so far. The team has won six out of the opening eight matches and it sees them leading the table along with St George/Illawarra Dragons. The prospects of Brisbane managing to continue this impressive form only seem strong after coach Wayne Bennett revealed a positive news in the form of Darius Boyd’s return. The full-back has not played for Brisbane this season. Despite this outstanding start, Brisbane are backed to win the title at 7/1 in the NRL 2015 odds.
There is little doubt that Boyd will be a very important aspect of Brisbane’s play going forward into the campaign. Up until now, Bennett has been able to manage the absence of his full-back by utilising the likes of Justin Hodges and Lachlan Maranta. Even though the coach is aware that Boyd will not be able to put in the impressive performances that he is known for until he gets back to full fitness. He has been training with the team continuously in the last week. It has given the club confidence that they may be able to field Boyd sooner rather than later.
Bennett is not expecting miracles from the 27-year-old straight away. It may take a few games and almost a month before the full-back reaches his full fitness. After having made his debut for Brisbane back in 2006, Boyd has not represented the club since 2008. He has spent the last few years with St. George Illawarra and Newcastle Knights. During this time away, he managed to win the 2010 NRL Premier League with the Dragons. Since his return to Brisbane, though, he was been hit by a major injury to his Achilles. After having been diagnosed with more than seven months on the sidelines, the club have been given a boost with Boyd returning slightly earlier than scheduled.
One of the primary reasons for Boyd’s departure from Brisbane in the first place was Bennett himself. The 65-year-old has taken Boyd wherever he has gone. However, the pair may not be working together for much longer after Bennett hinted that he may be thinking about the national team job once again. He has not coached the Australian national team since 2005. The recent test defeat for Australia at the hands of New Zealand has raised doubts about the possibility of Tim Sheens continuing as the kangaroos coach.
In an ideal world, Australia will want to give a few months of action to a new manager before heading into the World Cup 2017. Even though Mal Meninga of Queensland and Craig Bellamy of Melbourne Storm have been spoken as the favourites, Bennett has not ruled himself out of the running. His first spell in charge of the national team was just two matches long. A proper test came in his second spell when he spent almost 15 matches at the helm. Bennett may have one of the poorest records amongst the recent crop of national team coaches, but he is confident of doing a better job this time around.
Even if Bennett does leave for a national team managerial job, Boyd can aim to progress with his best years still ahead of him. He may have just returned in time for some club action, but Queensland boss Mal Meninga expects the full-back to feature in the 2015 Origin series that will start later this month. Bennett admitted that the Origin series is becoming ever more popular, but he says that test matches to hold special feeling that cannot be replicated. He has also pointed out to New Zealand’s recent success as a reason to focus back on the national team.
There are suggestions that Brisbane may struggle to keep up their lofty positions in the league due to the Origin series. A number of players like Darius Boyd, Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett, and Corey Parker will be unavailable for selection due to this series. Queensland are seen as the favourites in the upcoming State of Origin 2015 and they are backed by Betfair at 8/11. New South Wales are backed at evens to retain the title that they won last season. The success helped New South Wales break the superiority that Queensland have had since winning the title in 2006.
Centre Jack Reed says that the club have learned a lot of lessons from the injury situation at the early part of the campaign. Brisbane missed a number of important players – including Boyd – up until now, but they have won six out of the opening eight matches to stay top of the table along with St George/Illawarra. Reed says that there is no reason why they cannot continue without the same level of success even during the State of Origin.