Wayne Bennett buoyed by Darius Boyd

IT was one of the few genuine touches of class he has shown since arriving in Newcastle.

But Darius Boyd’s involvement in Aku Uate’s second try in the Knights’ 14-6 victory over Parramatta at Hunter Stadium on Sunday indicated the high-profile fullback recruit is starting to acclimatise to his new surroundings.

The 2010 Clive Churchill medallist is not yet back to his brilliant best but it was a positive sign after a slow start, particularly in the lead-up to Boyd’s return to Jubilee Oval against his old club on Friday.

The Dragons beat the Knights 15-14 in extra time on opening night at Hunter Stadium six weeks ago, and the Kogarah faithful are sure to make the evening as uncomfortable as possible for Boyd, Newcastle’s other former St George Illawarra players, and coach Wayne Bennett.

Like the Knights feeling their way under his tutelage, Bennett reckons Boyd is still adjusting to life in Newcastle colours.

Steady, but not spectacular.

But Bennett has no doubts the 24-year-old Queensland and Australian match winner will prove the adage that form is temporary but class is permanent.

Bennett has never lost faith but impatient Knights fans have been waiting to see the player who regularly ignited the Dragons’ backline in the past three years.

‘‘He’s reminding me a little bit of Adam Blair at the Tigers,’’ said Bennett, who coached Blair in the NRL All Stars and when assisting Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney at the 2008 World Cup.

‘‘I’ve worked with Adam Blair, I know what a good player he is, and he’s just struggling with the Tigers when I watch him. It happens sometimes.

‘‘You come to a new team and you’re playing with different players, and trying to get used to them, but the good thing about Darius’s game, he’s mistake-free.’’

Boyd whetted the blue and red army’s appetite against the Eels. After a scrum win created by Jarrod Mullen’s 40-20 kick in the 52nd minute, Boyd looped around to become the extra man in the backline and created space for Junior Sa’u to send Uate over.

‘‘He got a little bit of confidence out of today, and I thought the try where he got the ball to Junior there to give him that bit of a hole was good, and he did a couple of nice things, so hopefully it can go from there and get a bit more each week,’’ Bennett said on Sunday.

‘‘He’s just trying to fit into the way these boys play.’’

Numbers provided by NRL Stats confirm Boyd is still finding his feet.

Of the 24 players who have played fullback for their clubs this season, Boyd (80.8metres) is ranked 22nd in average metres gained. Since running 14 times for 128m against the Dragons in round one, he has averaged just 10.2 runs for 71.4m a game.

Boyd averaged 143.1m a game in 2010 and 136.2 each outing last year.

The two-time premiership-winner was the NRL’s No.1-ranked fullback for try assists in 2010, creating 18 tries for his Dragons teammates, and made 11 last season to be ranked No.5, but he is yet to make a try assist or a line break for the Knights this year.

In stark contrast, white-hot Storm fullback Billy Slater is the NRL’s top-ranked No.1 in both categories, with eight line breaks and five try assists.

Mullen, who was five-eighth when Boyd played fullback in the 2005 Australian Schoolboys team, said their combination was ‘‘building’’, and would improve the more they played together.

Shoulder and knee injuries to captain Kurt Gidley, and Bennett’s decision to switch Mullen from halfback to five-eighth after three games, have contributed to the Knights using four different halves partnerships this season.

‘‘I haven’t played with Darius before, other than in Australian Schoolboys, but we’re learning every week,’’ Mullen said.

‘‘It’s going to take a couple of more weeks but once it starts clicking, it’s going to be good.’’

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