An unlikely ally has come to Darius Boyd's defence after the Queensland stalwart knocked back a chance to be on stand-by for Wednesday's State of Origin opener to take a family holiday.
Former NSW rake Michael Ennis has backed Boyd after the Brisbane No.1's gamble to brush the Maroons and enjoy a family vacation appeared to backfire when fullback Billy Slater succumbed to a hamstring injury on Monday.
Not standing by: Darius Boyd.Photo: AAP
After initially overlooking Boyd for game one, it is believed Queensland coach Kevin Walters asked the 28 Origin veteran to still go into Maroons camp and train to cover Slater.
It is understood Boyd respectfully declined the request in order to take a break.
With Boyd on holiday in New Zealand, Walters was forced to call in Brisbane's Anthony Milford and Newcastle young gun Kalyn Ponga as potential replacements on Monday after Slater made a shock withdrawal.
While Queensland has prided itself on a "team first" mantra that has inspired 11 series win in 12 years, Ennis believed Boyd had done nothing wrong by thinking of his own welfare.
"He's played 28 Origins, he's in the rigours of an NRL season. He wants to mentally refresh after missing out (on Maroons selection)," Ennis told Fox Sports' Big League Wrap.
"If Darius Boyd knew that Billy Slater was some chance of not playing, Darius would have stayed on - no doubt about it."
Ennis had no problem with the Brisbane veteran taking a mid-season refresher after battling to reclaim his best following an ongoing hamstring complaint.
"This is a guy who has carried injury from the start of the competition, we have all exposed him in the media saying he is not performing the way he once was," Ennis said of Boyd.
"He is taking a five day break with his family to refresh so he can play his best football after being left out of the Queensland side.
"Maybe he knew it was the right time to have a break. I really don't think we can hold that against Darius."
Meanwhile, Boyd vowed to fight back into the Maroons team and dismissed talk he would be the latest to announce his Origin retirement.
The Maroons will start a new era on Wednesday as they begin life without retired greats, ex-captain Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston.
"I feel like I've played my best footy for the year over the past month so hopefully I've put a really challenging time behind me," Boyd wrote in his Fox Sports on-line column.
"That's my main focus right now, not getting back into the Queensland side."
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