Manly-Warringah forward, Les Boyd was suspended for 15 months after being found
guilty of gouging Canterbury-Bankstown hooker, Billy Johnstone in a match at Brookvale Oval.
Boyd, one of the stars of Australia’s history making tour of England and France in 1982, had played only three matches since completing a 12 month ban for elbowing Darryl Brohman and breaking his jaw in a State of Origin match at Lang Park.
NSWRL general manager, John Quayle lodged an official complaint about the Johnstone gouging incident after viewing the match video.
Boyd strongly denied the charge, admitting he had ‘roughed up’ Johnstone in a tackle when they were struggling for the ball, and the Canterbury hooker came up with it.
At Quayle’s request, Johnstone, a former Brisbane Brothers five eighth and Brisbane Souths hooker, appeared before the judiciary, but refused to answer questions relating to the incident.
Referee, Kevin Roberts, called as a defence witness, said he did not see the incident, but when he went to Johnstone, who was on the ground, the hooker said: “I’ll get him. I’ll get him.”
Roberts said he told Johnstone, an accomplished boxer, to calm down and play football.
Many people thought the 15 month ban would end Boyd’s playing career, and it certainly brought down the curtain on his top grade career in Australia.
But English club, Warrington threw him a lifeline in 1985, and he went on to play four seasons with the Cheshire club, where he remains one of their favourite imports.
Also in July 1984, Queensland coach, Arthur Beetson announced he would coach Easts in Sydney the following year, replacing Laurie Freier. Beetson was 39 at the time.