SPORTING DECLARATION: A dilemma

Nanjing Night Net

NCH SportKnights recovery at MayfieldPictured Darius Boyd12th March 2013NCH Sport Picture by DEAN OSLANDPOOR old Darius Boyd.

For a bloke who seems to detest the media spotlight, the Newcastle Knights fullback has a funny way of avoiding it.

Just a few weeks ago, Boyd found himself being dissected on the nightly news, in newspaper columns and by Foxtel rugby league panellists for his performance at one of those garden-variety, all-in interviews.

The whole business was a bit of a non-event, but because he was a previous offender, Boyd copped a hammering for more than a week.

It was hardly a hangable offence but by the same token could easily have been avoided if Boyd had kept his disdain for the press under a modicum of control.

Since then the prospect of Boyd standing in front of a microphone answering questions has been right up there with David Warner winning a kindergarten spelling bee.

Anyway, if Boyd was already dark on members of the fourth estate – whom he says are responsible for publishing “a lot of untruthful stories” that create “a wrong perception of some players in the game” – you can imagine his attitude after this week’s developments.

Along with Brisbane fullback Corey Norman, Boyd was reportedly present and witnessed an alleged incident involving South Sydney’s Ben Te’o that left a woman with a fractured eye socket.

There is no allegation of any wrongdoing on Boyd’s behalf.

Just as there was no wrongdoing on his behalf in 2008, after a much-publicised incident involving a woman, Broncos teammates Sam Thaiday and Karmichael Hunt and a nightclub toilet cubicle, which perhaps turned Boyd sour on the media forever.

But both episodes rate as embarrassing, to say the least.

And unfortunately for the Knights, the whole chain of events impacts on them.

If Boyd is not their highest-paid player, then he would be in the top three, in the same ball park as Kurt Gidley and Akuila Uate.

For a reported $500,000 a season, the Knights bought themselves a player who could become one of the code’s all-time greats. At 25, he has already played in 174 NRL games, 14 Origins, 11 Tests and won grand finals with two different clubs.

If he avoids injury, he could conceivably rewrite the record books.

Yet when clubs sign a marquee player, they often expect more than just an on-field dynamo.

They need someone who is the complete package. Someone marketable, to whom fans and sponsors can relate.

Unfortunately for Boyd, the public perception of him is of a champion player with an enigmatic personality who has a habit of finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I heard Foxtel commentator Ben Ikin refer to Boyd as a “great bloke” a few weeks ago.

Maybe he is. We can only take Ikin’s word for it.

But it doesn’t matter how many hospital visits Boyd makes or autographs he signs – while ever he presents a begrudging face to TV cameras, that is how 99 per cent of the population will view him.

Moreover, if Boyd was hoping for some guidance on how to deal with the media, he is unlikely to receive any from Knights management.

Take their handling of the Marvin Filipo affair.

Filipo was sacked almost two weeks ago, yet the Knights chose not to disclose this information until the Newcastle Herald started asking questions on Wednesday.

Even then they would not confirm the reason for his dismissal.

It took the Herald to reveal there had been an off-field altercation and a disciplinary hearing, at which Filipo’s contract was terminated.

It was a similar story in February when the Newcastle Jets – apparently realising Ben Kantarovski’s absence would eventually be noticed – released a statement announcing he had been fined and disciplined after an off-field “injury” that would sideline him for the rest of the season.

But the club did not divulge what the injury was.

It was the Herald that revealed Kantarovski had been punched outside a night spot and suffered a broken jaw.

Such attempts to obfuscate appear at odds with the statement on the Hunter Sports Group website that proclaims: “We always act in an honest, transparent and pragmatic manner.”

Some would argue the Filipo and Kantarovski matters are evidence to the contrary.

And while ever club officials are less than forthcoming, what hope is there for Darius Boyd?