More than a decade after Darius Boyd launched his NRL career as a winger, Justin Hodges says the under fire Brisbane skipper can spark the ailing Broncos by returning to the position in 2020.
Starting spots at Brisbane appeared to be running out for the besieged Boyd after news broke that Melbourne's Brodie Croft was Broncos-bound, sparking a backline reshuffle.
Incumbent five-eighth Boyd looks set to be replaced by Anthony Milford with Jamayne Isaako tipped to run out in the veteran's favoured fullback position in 2020.
It only added more fuel for critics who have been calling for Boyd, 32, to step down as captain and retire following a failed switch from No.1 to pivot in Brisbane's ill-fated 2019 season.
Some critics even claimed Boyd risked tarnishing his legacy if he didn't walk away after he was brutally exposed in Brisbane's humiliating NRL finals exit - a record 58-0 loss to Parramatta.
But former Broncos skipper Hodges believed the last thing Brisbane needed was for Boyd to retire, saying he could still reignite his career - and his club - on the wing or even centres thanks to his vast experience.
It would be back to the future for Boyd who started on the Broncos wing in his debut 2006 season, he then played centre before stamping himself as one of the game's premier fullbacks.
Hodges also cited the fact that Boyd scored the majority of his 17 tries for Queensland on the wing - one short of Maroons teammate Greg Inglis' Origin record.
"Obviously he didn't have the best year but you can't put him down for one bad year - he's had 13 other good seasons," Hodges said.
"Moving from fullback to five-eighth disrupted him a little bit as well.
"I think he should got back to the centres or even the wing.
"He's played a lot of wing for Queensland. He's the second highest try scorer (in Origin) besides GI (Inglis).
"I think he's valuable in that (wing) position and with good ball he can come off and play in that fullback role where he can link up."
Hodges backed Boyd to keep the Broncos reins but admitted the 317 NRL game veteran may benefit from having recently re-signed experienced back-rower Alex Glenn as a co-captain.
However, Hodges stressed that a young Broncos desperately needed the ex-Test fullback's leadership next season in the wake of veteran back-rower Matt Gillett's retirement.
"I know everyone is asking for him to be demoted as captain and retire but you still need that older head - that's what he brings," he said.
"He is the sort of guy you still need around the club. He has won premierships, he's done everything in the game.
"If you take Darius Boyd out of it there are not too many other older blokes there.
"Hopefully he stays and everyone gets behind him. He deserves to go out the right way, on his terms."
Australian Associated Press