One of the state’s most experienced and toughest forwards was thrown into the mix again this year after missing the 2015 series due to suspension. Greg Bird showed intent to make up for lost time and repay the faith and despite less time on the field, brought his typical tough approach that the Origin concept was built upon.
A leader for both the Titans and VB Blues over several years, Bird remained one of the first picked for an outfit which had already progressed from some of its ageing stars. Initially named at lock for the series opener – a position he has filled nine times – Bird was involved in a late swap with usual prop James Tamou, resulting in him beginning the game on the sideline.
Bird, for his 55 minutes, was energetic and resilient, adding significant spark to attack and defence when he entered the field. His 105 metres and 34 tackles were standard of the 32 year-old and it’s unfortunate that his impact went unnoticed by much of the Rugby League public. A certain selection for the second game, Bird was named to play on the left edge of the second row, before once again being shifted to the bench late in the piece.
The 2013 Brad Fittler Medalist enjoyed even fewer minutes in Origin II, but once again cracked 100 running metres and made 20 tackles. It was not a bad performance by any stretch of the imagination, but with Origin contests previously centering on Bird, his effect on the game was somewhat diminished.
Bird was not recalled for Origin III, with a host of young blood trialled for the final match. Even if it wasn’t his most dominant Origin series ever, Bird’s service to the NSW VB Blues cannot be understated. While Bird has since moved to former club the Catalans Dragons, where he will finish his career and look to transition into coaching, he will be remembered as one of the toughest NSW players of the modern era.