For his 18 games played in 2016, Boyd Cordner was nothing short of exceptional. Two major injuries, unfortunately, prevented him from having more of an impact for the NSW VB Blues.
Cordner began the NRL season on the sidelines with a pectoral injury sustained in the pre-season, playing just four games for the struggling Roosters before teams were picked for Origin I. His selection, of course, was close to a certainty, after five strong games from the bench so far for the VB Blues. The Old Bar Pirates junior was named to start for the first time, however, and would run out alongside Josh Jackson and James Tamou in the second row.
New South Wales would not come away victors from that first encounter, but it wasn’t through lack of effort from Cordner. An 80-minute performance saw him make 138 metres and 28 tackles, as well as breaking through for the VB Blues’ only try in the 25th minute. He ran smart, hard lines all night and was obviously effective in minimising Cooper Cronk’s impact, earning him the NSW VB Blues’ Players’ Player for Origin I.
Unfortunately, a serious foot injury sustained just days later would see him sidelined for another month, narrowly ruling him out for the final two games. He would continue to perform well for the Roosters for the rest of the season and was strong again for the Kangaroos throughout the Four Nations tour, asserting his status as one of the game’s best second-rowers.
Even with a wealth of relatively young second-row talent coming through the NSW ranks – Tyson Frizell, Wade Graham and Brad Fittler Medalist Josh Jackson come to mind – few fans would leave Cordner out of their best 17 for next season. Touted as the possible replacement for retiring captain Paul Gallen, the 28-year-old will need to take on some leadership responsibilities as the VB Blues aim for glory in 2017.