Bird To Start For VB Blues
Titans lock Greg Bird is set to reprise his role as an edge forward in the early stages of Holden State of Origin II with Blues debutant Tyson Frizell – called up for the suspended Wade Graham – to revert to the bench.
Bird has played lock the past few seasons at club level (aside from a few cameos at five-eighth) and hasn't served as an edge forward since 2014 when Ashley Harrison was at the club but speaking to media in Coffs Harbour on Thursday, insisted the edge role would be familiar to him.
"In the absence of 'Wado', we're disappointed to not have him in that spot but it gives an opportunity to Friz, then I'll move into that starting line up on an edge. It's something I've done many times before so it's not foreign to me," Bird said.
He added he wasn't sure what to expect from the coming week training in an altered role but outlined some of the differences in attack.
"Positionally your job changes obviously. You're sort of running lines on an edge at a three-man, at [Maroons halves] 'Thursto' (Johnathan Thurston) or Cooper [Cronk] rather than in the middle running at the big boys so I guess that side of it's probably a little bit better on the body but you do just as much work in defence.
"Because you have to play bigger minutes your tackling's all there and then you go and give the boys a rest when they're blowing as well so it doesn't change too much."
The Blues' first proper session, on Thursday morning, was more attack-focused according to Bird, in a hint the side was focusing on the areas it most needed to improve out of Origin I.
"I don't really know what to expect, we had our first session out there today and we didn't do much defence, it was more attack. Left and right [edge], I don't think it really matters that much.
"It doesn't bother me whether I play left or right or moving in and playing lock forward in the middle. You probably get a little bit more minutes out on the edge but at the end of the day it's an Origin, you do your job and help out with everyone else's wherever you're playing so it doesn't really bother me."
With left-side centre Michael Jennings already having indicated his hopes to see more ball in attack in Game Two, Bird said both he and Frizell were capable of popping an offload to the speedy three-quarter.
"I don't mind an offload and I know Friz is pretty good at the offload as well so if he comes on at the left edge at some stage of the game and I get pushed into the middle I know he's definitely capable," Bird said.
"I think that's Jenko's best footy is when he gets offloads and the field's a bit broken up. He's so fast he can sort of catch teams on their heels a little bit so hopefully we can get some second phase and bring him onto the football there."
Whenever Frizell is brought into the action next Wednesday – with Bird likely to shift into the middle for one of the other starting forwards to accommodate – he will handle whatever Queensland throw at him, according to Bird.
"He's been great for the Dragons. He's probably been on the cusp like Wado now for the last couple of years. He gets his opportunity. He's been in great form at St George – I think the last two or three weeks he's been up there with the man of the match. He's a hard ball runner," Bird said.
"Similar to Papalii for them, big, low to the ground, good footwork. Hopefully he can cause them the same sort of dramas he caused us in Game One."
This article first appeared on NRL.com
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