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Wayne Bennett defends Darius Boyd as star checks into rehab


Brett Keeble

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The Gus and Webby Show

Phil Gould and Andrew Webster discuss the big issue of player depression and Wayne Bennett's new job at the Broncos.

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On the same day Darius Boyd checked himself into a Sydney mental health clinic seeking treatment for depression, Knights coach Wayne Bennett described the troubled Queenslander as the most introverted player he has ever coached.

Boyd, who will leave the Knights at the end of this season and has been tipped to follow Bennett to Brisbane, could have played his last game for Newcastle after his father-figure and only NRL coach said on Wednesday there was no certainty he would play again this year.

"Football’s been the thing that’s held him together": Wayne Bennett on Darius Boyd.

"Football’s been the thing that’s held him together": Wayne Bennett on Darius Boyd. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

‘‘No idea at all. That’s not our priority,’’ Bennett said.

‘‘To be honest with you, he’s had a great love affair with football and maybe many times in his life, football’s been the thing that’s held him together.

‘‘But right now, football’s not the thing that’s holding him together. It’s his health, and he realises that, and football is secondary to everything else.’’

"‘I’m pleased for Darius that he’s recognised that he’s obviously got a problem": Wayne Bennett on Darius Boyd.

"‘I’m pleased for Darius that he’s recognised that he’s obviously got a problem": Wayne Bennett on Darius Boyd. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

On yet another dramatic day in the most turbulent season in the club’s history, Bennett indicated Boyd had been deeply affected by Alex McKinnon’s career-ending spinal injury and described him as a caring teammate who had never been comfortable having a public profile.

After media reports surfaced Boyd was being investigated for an incident in which $1500 worth of damage was done to a room in a Hunter Valley resort he stayed at last Wednesday, the Knights issued a statement on Wednesday saying he had been admitted to a mental health facility suffering depression.

‘‘I’m pleased for Darius that he’s recognised that he’s obviously got a problem, it’s a self-admission one and he’s come to this conclusion himself, and he booked himself into rehab in Sydney this morning,’’ Bennett said after the team trained without the 27-year-old Queensland and Australian star.

Bennett said he had coached other introverted players but ‘‘probably not as deep as him’’.

Dressing room cameras captured Boyd crying at half-time of a game against the Roosters early in his first season at the Knights, supposedly frustrated by his and the team’s modest form.

The dual premiership winner has created headlines throughout his career because of his disdain for the media and deliberate efforts to avoid being interviewed or photographed, but Bennett said he displayed a different persona within the team environment.

‘‘Well, he is a terrific bloke and he does care, but he is introverted, and he’s never going to be the life of the party, but he likes to go to a party,’’ Bennett said.

‘‘That’s what introverts do – they sit in corners and they watch you have fun.

‘‘But he’s caring, he’s always giving of himself here with the players and friendships and all that so ... the public [persona] is one he’s struggled with. It’s just not something he’s comfortable with and he’s probably made a bigger issue of it than what it really is.

‘‘But hopefully through this process, it might bring him to another point where he can handle things a little bit better going forward.’’

Bennett said Boyd, who lived with McKinnon in Wollongong when they were teammates at the Dragons, said McKinnon’s ordeal had contributed to his depression.

‘‘I have no doubt it has, yeah,’’ the coach said.

‘‘It’s been part of the issue – I don’t say it’s the whole issue – but it’s been a part thereof.

‘‘Look, he’s got a wonderful group of friends here and he is highly regarded within the playing group, regardless of what you see on the outside and the image that he might project.

‘‘Within the playing group, he’s got a lot of friends here – really good friends – and his best friend is Alex McKinnon, there’s no doubt about that.

‘‘But everybody’s here for him and he knows that, so he’s got plenty of support.’’

Bennett said Boyd’s revelations about his mental health issues were unrelated to the hotel room incident or publicity about it.

It is believed Boyd did not cause the damage but had contacted the hotel to offer to pay for repairs to a broken television set and a hole in a wall and carpet cleaning.

Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said on Wednesday Boyd had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

‘‘Although no complaint was made, the club can confirm the matter has been resolved,’’ Gidley said.

Bennett said Boyd was comfortable with the fact his condition has been made public.

‘‘I talked to him about that because I realised being here today was going to put it out there for everybody but he’s very comfortable with that,’’ he said.

‘‘He’s not trying to hide anything, so I said we’ll do it this way.

‘‘There’s no lies, there’s no deceit, we all know about it, and he can get on with his life and he will do that. I’m quite confident about that.

‘‘He can recover from this and be recognised for the wonderful player that he is, and let us all understand him a little bit better that he’s had a few demons.’’


  • Feel for Darius Boyd at the moment.

    Gracious and wise comments from his coach, and I am sure he will have lots of people wishing him well.

    All the best to him.

    Date and time
    July 24, 2014, 3:03AM
    • And this is why a lot of players love to play for Wayne Bennett. His ability to act as a father figure and not just a coach. His ability to communicate and express/portray the right words to the media about a situation. These type of actions show the players that he genuinely cares for them.

      Realist 1975
      Date and time
      July 24, 2014, 8:50AM
      • It may come as a surprize to some people but not everyone wants to be famous or on camera.

        Whilst players have a level of commitment to the media as part of a game that sells entertainment there are plenty of players who love to be on camera and are always up for an interview.

        It's pretty obvious the players who prefer to keep a low profile, the media really should respect that in most cases.

        I hope Darius gets well soon.

        Date and time
        July 24, 2014, 10:38AM
        • Good comments Seano, but I think it goes further than that.

          Players get grief from the media AND the public because the public think they know the lads just because they see them on the tele.

          There is a perception our there that all rugby league players act a certain way and have certain narrow/defined interests.

          Fact is, there is as much diversity in the playing ranks as there is in everyday life. Some fall into the bad boy/thug/rouge stereotype, some are bookish and intelligent and others are family men or whatever. Most are just lads making their way in the world who are good at playing footy.

          Remember when Boyd got grief about an interview he did a few years ago? I think he might have been at the dragons at the time. Maybe he shouldn't have been put up to do the interview, I don't know, but everyone is different and the sooner people stop thinking they are a set of homogenous robots the sooner we might get some wider understanding about the men who play this great game, the issues they face, and the pressures they are under.

          Hope he gets better and comes back stronger for it, even if he is a Queenslander.

          Canberra Sea Eagle
          Date and time
          July 24, 2014, 12:16PM
        • Well said. Totally agree.

          Date and time
          July 24, 2014, 1:38PM
      • Let's give Darius some time to defeat his inner demons. Life doesn't come easy for everyone and we tend to make far reaching judgements about people before gathering all the facts. let's hope he can find some peace in his life and that he continues treatment for his condition.

        Curl Curl
        Date and time
        July 24, 2014, 12:45PM
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