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Title: ... p43 Les Boyd (p81)Sorensen(p98) Gregory(p44)Steve Roach-Article on Les Boyds time with Warrington --

p43 Les Boyd - WHEN Les Boyd signed for Warrington Rugby League Club it was considered to be a huge gamble-


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Permission obtained from Emma Stewart Internet Content Editor Newsquest Cheshire & Merseyside
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WHEN Les Boyd signed for Warrington Rugby League Club it was considered to be a huge gamble. The Australian Test forward turned out to be the club's best overseas signing of the 1980s.

Warrington fans will never forget his finest hour, his man of the match performance in guiding Wire, as the Wolves were then known, to the 1986 Premiership final success over champions Halifax at Elland Road.

Neither will supporters forget the commitment, the passion and the aggression with which he defended fortress Wilderspool when opposition hard men attempted to knock him down in their claims to be top dog.

Widnes' great Kiwi Kurt Sorenson was one who always fancied his chances against Boyd and they collided in some great duels during their stay in England. Boydy, or even Sir Les, was a born winner, would not accept second best and it was a pleasure to see him wearing the Warrington colours with pride.

The so-called gamble of signing Boyd was based upon his reputation in Australia but the Wire chiefs were right. Bringing him over to Britain gave Boyd a fresh start, a different challenge and a new lease of life.

His Australian career had become clouded in controversy after such a bright and positive start. Four years with Western Suburbs were followed by five years with Manley in which time he gained State of Origin honours and international caps for Australia.

It was playing for New South Wales in the State of Origin in June, 1983, that his career took a turn for the worse. Boydy's elbow tackle broke the jaw of prop forward Darryl Brohman and he was hit with a 12-month ban.

He had not been sent off for the incident but cited by video. His return for Manly in 1984 lasted only three matches. He was found guilty of 'gouging' Canterbury-Bankstown hooker Billy Johnston and handed a 15-month suspension which finished his career down under.

It was towards the end of Boydy's second ban that Wire chairman Peter Higham snapped him up, in the year in which the ban on signing Australian players was lifted. Boyd made his debut for Warrington in the Lancashire Cup semi-final 11-4 success over Widnes at Wilderspool on October 2, 1995.

Two matches later he was seeking his first winners' medal in the game when he again lined up in the second row in the Lancashire Cup final side which was defeated 34-8 by Wigan at Knowsley Road.

Despite the disappointment of cup final defeat, Boydy's finest hour was only around the corner as the season ended on a high note for Wire - with Boyd in his more familiar role of prop forward.

After Paul Bishop's five drop goals had helped Warrington to win 23-12 at Wigan in the semi-finals of the Premiership Trophy, Warrington, with Boyd as captain, went on to face champions Halifax in the final at Elland Road. Boyd was an absolute inspiration to all around him.

He and players like full back Paul Ford and scrum half Andy Gregory had their best games in Wire shirts as Tony Barrow's men lifted the trophy with a top drawer display which crushed Chris Anderson's champions 38-10.

Boyd, who scored two tries in the final, won the Harry Sunderland Trophy for his man of the match display. The season ended with Boyd having made 33 appearances and having scored 13 tries.

In the following campaign came one of Boyd's awesome confrontations with Widnes' New Zealand Test prop Sorenson. Boydy was awesome as he outshone Sorenson and steered Wire to the John Player Trophy final with a convincing 35-4 victory at Central Park, Wigan.

It was Wigan who Warrington met in the final at Bolton Wanderers' Burnden Park and they suffered badly without a recognised scrum half in the side. Wigan came out on top 18-4.

That season, 1986/87, Boyd went on to score five tries in 26 appearances. Boyd's third season with Warrington started disastrously as he broke his right arm in the second game at Halifax. He returned to the side three months later but when he broke his arm for a second time in the 24-20 Challenge Cup defeat at home to St. Helens on February 13, 1988, Boyd decided to retire.

But before leaving for Australia one week later Boyd told his good friend and chairman, Higham, that he would be prepared to return if the club felt his services were needed and if his business commitments would allow.

After his injury healed, Boyd rejoined the club where he played when he was 16, Cootamundra, and led them to the Australian Country Championship.

It turned out that Higham felt Boyd was needed back at Wilderspool. In November 1988 Boyd was approached to take over the coaching reins at Wilderspool following Tony Barrow's departure to Oldham. Boyd turned the role down due to business commitments.

Warrington did eventually persuade Boyd out of retirement - as a player - in January 1989 at the start of Brian Johnson's spell as coach. It brought together the formidable front row partnership of Boyd and Australian Test star Steve Roach as Wire geared up for their Challenge Cup final bid - a competition Warrington had not won for 15 years.

Appears in the following pages ....P43_Les BOYD, P44_Steve ROACH, P81_Kurt SORENSEN, P98_Andy GREGORY
Date of posting ... 15-Jan-2004
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