Lavish parties, savage sprays: Boyd opens up on Knightmare
Nathan Tinkler was so out of control when he owned the Newcastle Knights he once took on Wayne Bennett in front of his team and later stormed into a dressing room to abuse the side at halftime.
Tinkler's tirades have been laid bare in Battling The Blues (Hachette Australia, $32.99), the autobiography of decorated full back Darius Boyd penned by Michael Crutcher to be released on Tuesday.
Riding on a tidal wave of support from former Newcastle greats, Tinkler purchased the Knights in 2011 and signed Bennett on a four-year deal before the one-time mining billionaire went into a spectacular financial tailspin which saw him go bankrupt.
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Boyd saw the days of excess like the times when the players first met Tinkler at his property outside Newcastle and headed back into town for a night out - they went by car while he took the helicopter.
But he was also there when the money dried up and several of his own contract promises went unpaid.
"As the weeks went on we began to learn more about Tinkler's personality,'' Boyd wrote.
"And it wasn't pretty.''
Before one game against the Broncos in Brisbane the Knights were having dinner on Caxton St and Tinkler, who had been drinking, sarcastically quizzed Boyd on whether he wanted some maroon sewn into the Knights jersey.
"According to Nathan I only played well for Queensland, so if he added a splash or maroon to the Knights jersey would that make me play better for the team.''
Boyd did not answer the question before Tinkler moved on to Bennett to ask him why he did not sign State of Origin forward Nate Myles, adding in a raised voice "I wanted him but you would not pay the money.''
"His behaviour was as surprising as it was embarrassing, although Wayne handled him superbly,'' Boyd wrote.
The night after the dinner things got worse when the Knights were trailing 24-0 at halftime against the Broncos and Tinkler stormed into the change rooms and started shouting at players.
"He was almost frothing at the mouth and he was not holding back as he told us what he thought about our footballing skills.
"He did this while Wayne was making the long journey from the coach's box down to the change rooms. He entered as Nathan was in full slight. Wayne did not make a scene but he must have let him know what he thought of it all. He did not appreciate the interference.''
The season had started on a decadent note with lavish post match functions and Tinkler personally handing out a wad of $2000 cash to the man-of-the-match after every round.
"That was stunning - it never happened at any other NRL club. Nathan promised us that win, lose or draw, and whether we played at home or away the player of the match would receive $2000 from him.
"The first signs things were turning sour came after the $2000 player of the match award was nowhere to be seen after the Knights round six match against the Eels and there was no luxury reception after the game.''
Boyd said he noted a story in the Newcastle Herald claiming local business owners were owed more than $1 million from Tinkler.
"I knew how some of the business owners felt. I was owed money by the Knights. I had been paid my base wage each month along with the rest of my teammates but the other contract guarantees had not eventuated.
"The Hunter Sports Group continually told (Boyd's manager) George Mimis and me not to worry - the money would all be paid; there had just been a few minor hitches which would be sorted out. That was a common response from Nathan and his spokesman whenever things about money were raised - nothing to worry about, all will be fine.''
THE GOOD: Boyd giving Nathan Tinkler a clip for his horrendous financial mismanagement which left a string of businesses in the racing, rugby league and mining industry devastated. Newcastle fell for his bluff and bravado too easily. Chief executive Rob Tew was almost run out of town for asking Tinkler to commit to a $10 million guarantee if he went bust but it ended up being the master play.
THE BAD: Rugby league's stunning injury toll. Some experts are saying the new six to go rule is not to blame. We disagree. As faster game means more off balanced, fatigue induced tackles and more risk of injury.
THE UGLY: Tevita Pangai's legal fight to try and stay at the Broncos. Pangai can fight as hard as he likes but until he can be trusted not to break COVID protocols no club can afford to sign him. That is why most of the major teams are ignoring him.
Originally published as Lavish parties, savage sprays: Boyd opens up on Knights nightmare