Brisbane skipper Boyd out of NRL final

 

In the end, Wayne Bennett believed it was a "pretty easy" decision for recovering skipper Darius Boyd to withdraw from Friday night's knockout NRL semi-final against Penrith at Suncorp Stadium.

Despite calls from Mal Meninga and Justin Hodges to roll the dice on his fitness, Broncos fullback Boyd made the tough decision to pull out of the sudden death clash after again succumbing to a hamstring complaint.

Bennett said Kodi Nikorima would start at fullback for Boyd with veteran Benji Marshall retained in the halves with Anthony Milford.

Boyd looked set to return after missing last week's qualifying final loss to Sydney Roosters when he completed almost the entire captain's run on Thursday at Suncorp Stadium.

Then he dropped the bombshell to Bennett.

No Boyd again. Image: Getty

Brisbane mentor Bennett said there was no pressure on Boyd to run out in the do-or-die clash, claiming it would have been an easy call for the honest skipper.

"It was his call," Bennett said.

"There wasn't any pressure from me or the club.

"It was a pretty easy decision if he was honest with himself.

"He just doesn't feel like he will be at his best."

Bennett said Boyd was no guarantee for next week's preliminary final against minor premiers Melbourne at AAMI Park if the Broncos overcame the Panthers.

"He's always been honest and he is a perfectionist," Bennett said of Boyd's call to withdraw.

"If he doesn't feel like he can do his best I would rather that (pull out) than him going out tomorrow night and letting everyone down.

"But he's no guarantee for next week."

Kangaroos coach Meninga and ex-Brisbane skipper Hodges told Fox Sports on Wednesday night they believed the Broncos had no choice but to pick Boyd for the Panthers match.

But Bennett backed the pint-sized Nikorima to step up at fullback after ruling out any more last minute changes at No.1 against the Panthers.

Bennett started diminutive winger David Mead at fullback against the Roosters last week before shifting Nikorima into No.1 after the first 20 minutes.

"I just wanted to take some pressure off Kodi but he will definitely be starting (on Friday night). I am confident he can do the job," Bennett said.

Penrith coach Anthony Griffin didn't sound convinced that Boyd was out.

"We'll still prepare that he's going to be there but if he's not, that's something that we've spoken about," he said.

"I don't think it'll disrupt them that much."

Meanwhile, Bennett also ruled out bench forward Tevita Pangai Junior (hamstring).

STATS THAT MATTER

* Penrith have won both their previous finals games against Brisbane - in 1990 and 2003

* Brisbane have won 11 of 17 matches against Penrith at Suncorp Stadium

* Brisbane have won six straight finals at Suncorp Stadium.

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