The secret clause in Boyd’s Broncos contract
Right now, nothing is certain in the world of Darius Boyd.
Even the structure of his current contract with the Broncos is rather unusual.
Amid the frenzy over Boyd's form, whether he is a five-eighth, fullback or centre and whether he should retire immediately, a simple clause in his standard NRL player contract spells out the challenge confronting the Broncos skipper.
When Boyd fronted a press conference at Broncos Leagues Club in October, 2017, the club announced a lucrative four-year extension. Done deal. The skipper was locked in until the end of 2021.
But the captain's contractual arrangement is a tad more complex than that.
The first two seasons of Boyd's upgrade, 2018 and 2019, were guaranteed, but from next season, there is a small caveat that could shape how long Darius reigns at Red Hill.
Mindful he had just turned 30 when they re-signed their skipper, the Broncos wanted a contractual safety net for Boyd's twilight years, a reasonable expectation given how rapid a player's decline can be in their 30s.
Despite searing criticism of Boyd's form this season, the 32-year-old intends to play on next season.
Now there will be a definitive benchmark.
Under the terms of his contract for 2020, Boyd must play more than 15 games next season to make him eligible for a possible career swan song at age 34 in 2021.
Should he fail to reach that figure, Boyd technically has no contract at the Broncos for 2021 and, effectively, no future at Red Hill.
Amid much confusion, there is now a black-and-white Key Performance Indicator for Boyd to hit next year.
In the event Boyd gets injured, or otherwise fails to meet the 15-game standard, the Broncos, by rights, could feasibly play contractual hardball and jettison the skipper, freeing up around $700,000 under the salary cap in the process.
But such is Brisbane hierarchy's respect for Boyd's service, and the captain's personal pride, any eventual parting of ways will be managed carefully so as not to incite rancour or bad blood.
Boyd is nobody's fool. If the love dies, he won't play on for money. When he celebrated his 300th NRL game in May, he told this column he won't hang around for the sake of it. With nothing left to prove, the two-time premiership-winner is happy to operate as a year-to-year proposition.
The Broncos are prepared to work with Boyd to manage his looming exit. Whether he walks away next year or the year after, Boyd will remain at the Broncos in an off-field role, working for the club in the mental-health space.
Boyd won't trumpet it, but for more than 12 months he has been helping troubled youth, some depressed, some gripped by suicidal thoughts. He is inundated with letters at the Broncos from strangers praising him for the courage to beat his own demons as they ask for help to confront theirs.
The off-field work has given Boyd perspective about his on-field struggles this year, and why a career shift from fullback to five-eighth at age 32 is not so significant. Or why copping abuse for making one run in a match cannot break him.
"I'm enjoying it," he says of his stint in the Broncos No.6 jumper made famous by Wally Lewis and Darren Lockyer.
"We've been winning and that's the main thing to be successful. I'm a team player.
"Something was said about me not having enough runs the other week but at the end of the day, if we're winning, that's all that matters. I'm not going to have three or four hit-ups just to get the stats on the board.
"As long as we're winning and playing well, and 'Seibs' (coach Anthony Seibold) is happy with what we're doing and we're moving forward, that's the main thing.
"We need to keep getting better … and I need to keep getting better."