He represented Australia last weekend, was Newcastle’s 2013 player of the year and is apparently destined to finish with a career record that ranks alongside the all-time greats.
Yet for perhaps the first time since his NRL debut as an 18-year-old with Brisbane in 2006, Darius Boyd is struggling for form.
Statistics obtained by Fairfax Media suggest the Queensland Origin regular has been well below his best since he tore his hamstring in the season-opener against Penrith and missed the next two games.
In five subsequent games, Boyd played strongly in Newcastle’s only two wins this season – against Cronulla and Canberra – but lacked his usual spark in their losses to North Queensland, Brisbane and Canterbury.
According to Contributor Value Ratings system provided by NRL Stats, Boyd is ranked the 17th-best fullback in the NRL this season in terms of his average match contribution.
Last year he was seventh.
His CVR game score of 197.76 is well down on his tallies of last season (358.75) and 2012 (370.90) and less than half his career-high average of 427.73 at St George Illawarra in 2010 – the year he won the Clive Churchill Medal as man of the match in the grand final.
Only once in his career has he had a lower CVR – in 2007 (164.18), his second season with Brisbane, when he was shuffled between wing, centre and fullback.
The best-performed fullbacks this season in terms of CVR are Wests Tigers rookie James Tedesco (474.16), South Sydney’s Greg Inglis (443.46), Manly’s Brett Stewart (400.62), Parramatta’s Jarryd Hayne (367.33) and Canberra’s Anthony Milford (338.74).
The CVR scoring system was devised at the end of 2010 by then Manly coach Des Hasler and number-crunchers from Sportsdata, the NRL’s official statisticians, to provide a database to evaluate player performances in 30 different categories.
The Moneyball-style technology, which produces a score for each player, per game and per minute, has since been adopted by more than half the clubs in the NRL.
Boyd’s diminishing impact can also be measured by more straightforward statistics.
In 26 games last season, he scored 11 tries, produced 11 try assists and averaged 129.7 attacking metres per game.
Only three Newcastle players had better yardage averages.
This year the 26-year-old has managed just one try and one try assist and has carried the ball 75.5 metres per game – the first season since 2008 that he has not averaged more than 100 metres per game.
Twelve Knights players are carrying the ball further, on average, each game.
Even after excluding the round-one game in which he was injured, in Boyd’s five subsequent appearances he has averaged only 85.2 metres.
Knights coach Wayne Bennett argued recently that Boyd was a victim of the high standard he sets himself.
‘‘He’s coming back [from injury] and getting some confidence. I’m not disappointed in Darius,’’ Bennett said on April 22.
‘‘There’s not many fullbacks who kick-chase, there’s not too many fullbacks who do hit-ups carrying the football either ... I think he gets a little frustrated, like we all do at stages when we’re probably not taking the options that we need to be taking, and he’s a victim of that.
‘‘There’s nothing wrong with his training or his attitude.
‘‘He’s committed to all those things, and the team, he just gets frustrated, and frustration’s a terrible thing. It’s a highway to nowhere.’’
Boyd’s frustration may not be confined to on-field matters.
The Knights’ official newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, reported in March that the 17-Test veteran was owed ‘‘around $200,000 in third-party agreements’’ and was ‘‘pursuing alternatives to ensure he’s fully compensated’’.
Fairfax Media received similar information and was also told Boyd refused to attend the club’s season launch in protest.
Knights officials responded to that with a statement reading: ‘‘In response to today’s report concerning Darius Boyd, the NRL salary cap audit verifies the club has met all contractual obligations and will continue to do so.’’
The Knights said ‘‘personal reasons’’ prevented Boyd from attending the season launch but did not elaborate.
Whether that issue has affected his performances, only Boyd could answer – and the enigmatic Queenslander is renowned for avoiding any contact with the media.
The story Darius Boyd struggling to light up the Newcastle Knights first appeared on Brisbane Times.