Bird's Origin Anguish
Greg Bird says a suspension for a lifting tackle in the 2015 Trans-Tasman Test that saw him miss the entire Origin series took such a mental toll on him that he elected not to return to the Blues' Coffs Harbour camps for Games Two and Three.
As a key member of the NSW set-up over a long period, Bird was invited to spend time in camp with the 2015 squad for Game One but he said it made it even tougher to deal with by being so close to the group.
"It was very, very hard [sitting out]," Bird said in camp in Coffs Harbour on Tuesday.
"Coming in [to camp] for Game One, especially being around the guys and going through the emotional roller coaster that is an Origin week and then having to drive home when the boys went to Sydney and watching it on TV definitely took it out of me but I'm back now and have the opportunity to make amends."
He said that experience of being in camp as a non-player definitely made it harder to deal with missing out.
"That's why I didn't come back for Game Two and Three. It was really hard. I thought I wanted to be around the guys and sort of share in the experience and hopefully have a contribution to the team but it took it out of me mentally definitely.
"[Blues coach Laurie Daley] asked me to come back and I gave him the run around a little bit to be honest!"
The NSW enforcer is also hoping the chance to make a statement against a Maroons pack featuring the bulk of the Australian Test pack from the recent Trans-Tasman win over New Zealand will help him state his case for a recall to the Kangaroos for the end-of-year Four Nations tour.
"That's always been in my thoughts since that side was picked. There's no secret it was pretty much all Queenslanders. It's something I've thought about," Bird said
"You don't need any extra motivation when it comes to State of Origin though, it's the pinnacle of rugby league but I have thought about it as a driving force in putting in a good performance against the players that were in front of me in selection."
A return to green and gold is still very much a goal for the 17-Test veteran.
"I was disappointed not to make it but at the end of the day but if they thought there was someone better to take the spot you can't kick and scream about it. I've got the perfect opportunity now to go out and show them I think they made the wrong one and there's a series at the end of the year. It's just about going out and playing good football," he said.
"Rep level is the best opportunity to show off your talent or show what you're capable of and just go out and put in a good performance but I'm trying to win the game rather than trying to show up the selectors so that's my main priority."
This article first appeared on NRL.com