Darius Boyd will definitely leave the Knights at season end. Photo: Jonathan Carroll
Knights fullback Darius Boyd is no certainty to follow coach Wayne Bennett back to the Brisbane Broncos but he will leave Newcastle at the end of this season.
Confirming a Fairfax Media report, the Broncos announced on Monday that Bennett would return to Brisbane next season to replace Anthony Griffin as coach.
Sources in Brisbane told the Newcastle Herald on Monday that the Canberra Raiders had emerged as favourites to sign the enigmatic Queenslander, who has told Knights players and officials in recent weeks that he will not see out the final year of his four-year contract.
But Canberra chief executive Don Furner dismissed that suggestion outright, telling the Herald on Monday night that the Raiders had ‘‘absolutely no interest in him at all’’.
‘‘We haven’t spoken to him or anyone about him,’’ Furner said.
Rugby league’s rumour mill first linked Boyd to the Raiders and the Bulldogs after it was revealed in March that he was unhappy at the Knights because a $200,000 third-party agreement had not been honoured.
Fairfax Media reported two weeks ago that Canterbury officials had dismissed speculation that the Bulldogs were chasing Boyd.
Boyd, who turned 27 last Thursday, has played his entire 204-game NRL career under Bennett at the Broncos (2006-08), Dragons (2009-11) and Knights (2012-14), winning premierships together at the Broncos (2006) and Dragons (2010).
The Broncos already have fullbacks Ben Barba and Josh Hoffman on their books and have signed Canberra livewire Anthony Milford for next season, indicating Boyd could be surplus to requirements at the club where he began his career as an 18-year-old schoolboy.
But considering Barba’s less-than-spectacular first season in Brisbane, and reports Milford has been earmarked to play five-eighth at the Broncos next year, Barba could conceivably be moved on to make way for Boyd to continue his career under Bennett’s guidance.
Though he plays wing for Queensland and Australia, and is the Maroons’ all-time equal top State of Origin try-scorer with 15 tries from 20 Origin appearances, Boyd has played most of his NRL career as a fullback and is unlikely to switch positions at this stage of his career.
Boyd, who was not made available to speak to the media on Monday, and centre Joey Leilua are reportedly the only Knights players who have clauses in their contracts allowing them to leave the club if Bennett is no longer coach.
Leilua signed a new two-year contract in April to extend his tenure until the end of 2016 and, Knights sources say he has given no indication he intends exercising his escape clause.