One in a series of articles checking out the careers of Warrington's sporting legends, who take a much deserved place in our Hall of Heroes

AUSTRALIAN Test forward Les Boyd turned out to be Warrington Wolves' most influential overseas signing of the 1980s.

And his front-row combination with fellow Aussie prop Bob Jackson and New Zealand hooker Kevin Tamati is considered by many ardent followers as Warrington's best of all time.

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Wolves fans will never forget Boydy's finest hour, his man-of-the-match performance in guiding Wolves to the 1986 Premiership Trophy 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 and the team down.

Widnes' Kiwi Kurt Sorensen was one who always fancied his chances against Boyd and they collided in some great duels during their stay in England.

A so-called 'gamble' signing of Boyd was based upon his reputation but bringing him over to Britain gave the hard-man a fresh start, a different challenge and a new lease of life.

His career had become clouded in controversy.

During four seasons with Western Suburbs and five years with Manly Boyd gained State of Origin honours and international caps for Australia.

It was playing for New South Wales in June, 1983, that his career took a turn for the worse.

An elbow tackle broke the jaw of prop forward Darryl Brohman and Boyd was hit with a 12-month ban.

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.

It was towards the end of Boydy's second ban that Wolves chairman Peter Higham presented him with a new opportunity.

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Boyd made his debut for Warrington in a Lancashire Cup semi-final success over Widnes at Wilderspool on October 2, 1985.

Two matches later he was seeking his first winners' medal in the sport 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, St Helens.

Boydy's finest hour was only around the corner, though.

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 prop and captain, went on to face champions Halifax in the final at Elland Road. Boyd was an absolute inspiration to all around him as Tony Barrow's men lifted the trophy with a top-drawer display, winning 38-10.

Two-try hero Boyd won the Harry Sunderland Trophy for his man-of-the-match display.

In the following campaign Boydy was awesome as he outshone Sorensen and steered Wolves to the John Player Trophy Final with a convincing 35-4 victory over Widnes at Central Park, Wigan.

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

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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.

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

In November, 1988, Boyd was approached to take over the coaching reins at Wilderspool following Barrow's departure to Oldham but 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 another formidable front-row partnership of Boyd and Australian Test star Steve Roach as Wolves geared up a Challenge Cup push.

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They reached the semi final and a Wembley appearance was beckoning, which would have been a fitting tribute to Boyd's career of 17 Australia caps, Kangaroo tours of Great Britain in 1978 and 1982, a Kangaroo tour of New Zealand in 1980 and a tour of England with the Australian Schoolboys in season 1972-73. And at club level, there had been the Grand Final runners-up medal Down Under with Manly.

Despite a brave Warrington performance, Wigan again held on to their cup domination over Warrington in that era with a 13-6 victory at Maine Road.

It was Boyd's swansong on British soil although he did appear in the primrose and blue shirt again later that year, when Warrington and Wigan played in the pioneering Milwaukee Challenge match in America.

In that game Boydy showed he had lost none of the spirit and aggression he was renowned for by spending 10 minutes in the sin bin following a bust-up with Wigan captain Ellery Hanley.

Off the field, his mentoring at Wilderspool and his coaching and development work with children in the town was deeply appreciated.

He may have come to Warrington as 'Bad Boy Boyd' but he won over the respect of the town and went home as 'Sir Les'.

Warrington Guardian:

Les Boyd, centre, with Steve Hesford, left, and John Bevan, right, on a return visit to Warrington in 2008

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