YOU can tell Les Boyd spent plenty of time in a Warrington shirt when you ask him about rivalry with Wigan.

It was against the Pie Eaters in the Milwaukee Challenge match 30 years ago that the Australian played his last Wire match.

And he travelled over 50 hours, via seven Pacific island stops, to reach America so that the no-nonsense prop could have one more crack at Ellery Hanley, Joe Lydon, Andy Gregory and co.

“I wasn’t the greatest fan of Wigan, and I’m still not,” said the 62-year-old during what will probably be his final return to a town where he is still talked about in the same tongues as fellow Australian legends like world record try scorer Brian Bevan and trophy-winning ex-Wire captain Harry Bath.

“I’d like to see Wigan get beaten every game. Actually, I’d like to see them relegated.

“When they were down near the bottom at the start of the competition this year I thought it was tremendous - as exciting as Warrington being at the top.”

Within the opening minute of that American adventure he and ex-Great Britain captain Hanley were sin-binned for fighting.

That was Boyd going out with a bang, after having featured in numerous high-profile showdowns with Wire’s fiercest rivals between 1985 and 1989.

They included the 1985 Lancashire Cup Final at Knowsley Road, St Helens, the 1987 John Player Special Trophy Final at Burnden Park, Bolton, and the 1989 Challenge Cup semi-final at Maine Road, Manchester.

“One of the worst feelings I got playing over here was when we lost the semi-final of the Challenge Cup at Maine Road,” he said.

“We should have won that. We didn’t kick the ball into touch, and then Joe Lydon kicked that field goal from inside his own half.

“I’m sure if we’d have beaten Wigan in that, we would have gone on to beat St Helens.

“That would have been a tremendous experience to have gone to Wembley.”

Warrington Guardian:

Les Boyd in action for The Wire. Picture by Eddie Whitham

And there was no doubting the highlight for a man who’s career, after two long-term suspensions in the Australian game, was revitalised by the move to Warrington in 1985 after turning down Wigan, Hull KR, Hull and Salford.

“The Premiership Trophy win in 1986, especially with not having won much for a fair few years – since the early 70s,” said Boyd, who packed down with Kevin Tamati and Bob Jackson that day in a front row still considered by man as Wire’s best of all time.

“We had to do it a bit tough. We had a lot of games frozen off that year and I think in the last 18 days we had about seven games, or something like that, leading into the final against Halifax.”

Boyd was the winner of the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match that day – his finest hour in club rugby after playing professionally since 18 with Western Suburbs and then Manly.

Leading into his move to England, Boyd had played four games in close to three years following a 12-month suspension for an elbow tackle and a record-equalling 15 months for gouging soon after his return.

Boyd had already tasted plenty of rugby league in England having been on the inaugural Australian Schoolboys tour of 1972 – when he spent Christmas being looked after by a family in Warrington – and became a Kangaroos tourist in 1978 and 1982.

“Wigan, Hull KR, Hull and Salford were all trying to get me to sign but I signed for Warrington for a lot less money than I could have gone to Wigan for,” said Boyd, who rates Warrington-born Australian Test stand-off Bobby Fulton as the greatest he played with or against.

“I probably would have won more Premierships and a Challenge Cup, but I’m glad I came to Warrington because it’s a great community full of good people. It’s a nice place to be part of.

“And what stands out now is the friendships I’ve made and the people that have looked after me.

“The people of Warrington were tremendous to me, always have been.

“My first game was a Wednesday night game against Widnes in the Lancashire Cup. I didn’t play too badly, but because I hadn’t played for three years the next seven or eight games I really struggled.

“I tore my rib cartilage actually (in the first game), but the people of Warrington were very good to me through that period and then I started getting used to playing football again.

“I thought it would be a great experience coming to play English football.

“It’s the best thing I’ve probably ever done, coming to Warrington.

“I wish I’d have come over and played English football when I was 17/18. I really enjoyed the style of football.”

He admitted he regretted the way his playing days finished at the top level in Australia.

“When I was suspended the last time I was still only 26, still only young and had a lot more time to play in Sydney,” he said.

“But out of everything bad something good comes and coming to England was tremendous.

“I made some great friends here and I really do appreciate what the club and fans did for me.”

After hanging up his boots with The Wire, Boyd continued to play the sport at a lower level as he went on to discuss his life beyond rugby league.

“I played in my home village until I was 40 years old. I ran around with a few of my mates mucking around in the local competition,” he said.

“I coached for a couple of years. We got beat in the final a couple of times.

“I’ve been very lucky in other aspects of my life.

“My wife and I have a great relationship and we have two children – which we had when we were here – and now we’ve got four grandchildren, so that keeps me busy.

“I finished up with work about six months ago, officially I retired in June.

“I do have a farm as well, so I do a fair bit of work on the farm. It’s more of a hobby farm. It’s about 300 acres of land, I run 40 to 50 cattle and a couple hundred sheep.

“When I was young we had a farm way out west and I grew up with that being part of my life.

“It’s something I enjoy and yes, it’s a completely different lifestyle to playing rugby league isn’t it.

“I worked for breweries, selling alcohol for about 35 years.

“I’d work for six months in the alcohol industry, then come over and play football for Warrington, and then go back there and work there again.

“When I finished here I went to work for a big company, basically the XXXX company or Tooheys. I worked for them for about 24 years.”

There is room for a few more hobbies when not focused on the grandchildren or the family.

“I do a lot of shooting and fishing,” he said.

“My wife and I travel a fair bit too. I don’t know how I found time to work to tell you the truth.”

For anyone who has had a chat with Boyd, the mild-mannered gentleman is a far cry from the enforcer character that duelled with some of the other hardest men in rugby league of the era – people like Kurt Sorensen at Widnes and Adrian Shelford at Wigan.

But he says he is not sure where the aggression came from when he stepped over the white line.

“As a child I was one of six children and grew up on a farm in a very remote area,” he said.

“I suppose we were always competitive.

“I was probably competitive at most things I did, but I don’t know where the aggression came from.

“When I was a bit younger I probably overstepped the line a bit too far sometimes with the aggression, but that’s life and you learn as you get older.

“There’s been many players over the years that are tremendous people but when they play sport, whether it’s rugby league or any other sport, they become tremendously competitive and a lot of them tremendously aggressive too.”

Boyd watched The Wire’s home win against Wakefield on September 6 but does he feel he could have been a revelation in today’s game?

“I don’t know. That’s a hypothetical question. I don’t think anybody really knows how people from different eras would adapt to games,” he said.

“In the game today, the men are bigger by far. And they’re probably a lot quicker. The game’s a lot quicker, but I think if you put someone from my era in today’s game and give them the same training I think they’d adapt and adjust.

“It’s the same with people before us, if you’d have brought them into our game and trained the way we’d trained they would have had the same skills and mindset.”

We asked Boyd if he had a final message for the fans before heading back Down Under, highly likely never to return.

“Thanks for the five years I had here,” he said.

“The club and the people of the town looked after me and my family tremendously well.

“I still wish all the best to the club and the people of the town.”