There was no fairytale NRL send-off for Darius Boyd on Thursday night, but there was still one important thing for him to smile about after the game
The Brisbane veteran's glittering career came to a sad end at Suncorp Stadium as the Broncos were relegated to dead last for the first time in the club’s history, courtesy of a 32-16 loss to North Queensland.
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It was an inglorious end to ex-skipper Boyd's otherwise stellar 337-game career.
Positives were hard to find after Brisbane ended a horror year that included a club-record 11 straight losses, their most defeats in a season (17), their most points conceded (624), their lowest season points tally (268) and their worst points differential (-356).
Brisbane did have something to celebrate after the final whistle though, when the team joined Boyd for a bizarre post-match gender reveal for his unborn baby.
Booting a makeshift footy towards the stands, an explosion of pink smoke erupted to signify that the 33-year-old and and his wife Kayla were having a baby girl.
While it was undoubtedly one of the few things to bring joy to Boyd and the Broncos in a horror 2020, many viewers were left seething.
Fans insisted it was a shocking look for the players to be celebrating straight after clinching the club's first ever wooden spoon, with the gender reveal proving divisive on social media.
Gender reveal divides fans
"Imagine losing 32-16 confirming the wooden spoon and being happy about it after the game," one user wrote on Instagram.
Another said: "I'd be pissed off if this my my team and they'd just finished last. No pride in the jersey at all."
In what has been a trying and testing year for Darius Boyd and the Broncos, a nice note to finish on. Congrats Darius. Nothing like bringing a new life into the world. A reminder that rugby league is just a game. There’s more to life as Darius showed us tonight #NRLBroncosCowboys https://t.co/rziq4r9jJo— Daniel Watson Hayes™ (@dwatsonhayes) September 24, 2020
Just not sure Darius read the room last night. Outstanding career albeit a season or two too long. But when your team finishes their worst season I just didn’t think his post game gender reveal was the way to go out. Team hurting. Fans angry. Not time or place IMO— Cyril Sidestep (@CyrilSidestep) September 24, 2020
Just when I thought I couldn’t dislike the broncos and Darius Boyd any more than I do, they go and do a gender reveal after collecting the spoon. Embarrassment levels 12/10— Joliet Jake (@Likeatiger4) September 24, 2020
It’s all happening at Suncorp. Retiring Darius Boyd has done a gender reveal by kicking a footy into the crowd. His pregnant wife is having a girl. I’ve seen it all.— Pete Badel (@badel_cmail) September 24, 2020
I find the whole Darius gender reveal thing funny. Tells you exactly what the @brisbanebroncos players care about....themselves, not their fans. I can't stop laughing.— JasMatthews (@Jason06083) September 24, 2020
The season was a massive disappointment for Broncos fans. The players had some odd priorities this year. The post-match gender reveal wasn’t a good look. The club appears to lack strong leadership at the moment. #brisbanebroncos #nrl— Brenden Wood (@BrendenWood) September 24, 2020
Never been a fan but cannot deny he has had an impressive career. Sad though that as a senior player at a very proud and successful club that has had one of their worst years in history he is so tone deaf that he has a huge look at me moment! Really poor— Ollie Webb (@WebbOllie) September 24, 2020
Congratulations Boyd. Enjoy retirement— Zack (@z_p1ngu) September 24, 2020
Boyd was showered with praise after the curtain came down on his glittering career, with Channel Nine airing tributes from former teammates and coaches such as Alex McKinnon and Wayne Bennett.
The 33-year-old did manage to score a try in his final outing in the NRL, before saying a heartfelt goodbye to fans after the match.
“It‘s disappointing obviously but it’s been a tough year for a number of reasons,” he said.
“My last game isn‘t going to define the career I’ve had, I’ve been very grateful and honoured to play with some of the best players in the game and for some great clubs too. A lot of gratitude and I really owe a lot to rugby league.”
Some beautiful tributes flowing in for an emotional Darius Boyd after his final game. ☺️☺️— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) September 24, 2020
A well deserved break is on the horizon!
STREAM: https://t.co/VS81dYDB9e#9WWOS #NRL #NRLBroncosCowboys pic.twitter.com/DxQXaNC8gb
Boyd backs Kevvie for Broncos job
The veteran said despite Brisbane's struggles in 2020, he's sure the club is in safe hands.
Boyd was confident it would be after looking at the talent in the Broncos dressing room rather than the NRL ladder on Thursday night.
Citing youngsters Herbie Farnworth, Xavier Coates and Jordan Riki, Boyd firmly believed the Broncos' future was bright.
"In my opinion, having a new coach, a new system, the boys putting this year behind them, getting out of the bubble and if they re-group and refresh and have a real strong pre-season with a defensive mindset I think this group can easily get into the top eight next year," he said.
Former Broncos premiership-winning captain and current Queensland mentor Walters was interviewed for the Brisbane 2021 gig on Thursday along with ex-Cowboys mentor Paul Green.
Boyd reckoned there was only one man who could turn it around for Brisbane.
"I've always said Kevvie deserves it," he said.
"At the end of the day the club needs to make a big decision.
"Kevvie has been around for quite a while, his record speaks for itself as a player and assistant, I know he hasn't had a head coaching job ... but I think the fans will get behind Kevvie.
"At the end of the day you need to get results - it's up to them (Broncos)."
Despite Boyd's optimism, Brisbane will start 2021 behind the eight ball after makeshift five-eighth and NSW Origin hopeful Kotoni Staggs suffered a suspected ACL knee injury.