Bird Keen For More Action In Origin III
NSW Blues utility Jack Bird admits he'd like more game time in the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium on July 12 after he was used for just 19 minutes off the bench in the 18-16 loss in Game Two.
The gifted 22-year-old – who revealed he still doesn't know what his best position is – spent most of the game in a puffy jacket on the interchange bench before he was finally brought on at right centre to accommodate Josh Dugan's move to fullback after custodian James Tedesco was forced off for an HIA.
How Blues coach Laurie Daley uses his energetic utility in Game Three remains a mystery, but there is no denying Bird could be the ace in the deck NSW need to secure its firsts series win since 2014.
"It's a bit different for myself [not playing big minutes] but I'm sure Laurie has a plan for me. I'm down for that, whether it's starting or off the bench and how long he wants to use me for," Bird told media on Wednesday.
"I'm sure he has a plan and as long as I'm playing, I'm happy with that. What else can I do? I can't really change Laurie's mind unless I'm playing good footy.
"There's obviously a role there for me to play, it's just whether I get on or not. We've spoken about going in the middle but every time I've gone on, I've gone on as a centre.
"Sometimes the plan doesn't go to plan, but hopefully in Game Three it does work out for the best."
Bird admitted it was tough having to wait on the bench for his opportunity to influence the contest but understands Daley's original plans for him have been scuttled by unforeseen circumstances in each of the first two games.
"You pinch yourself because you want to get out there, but I try not to run too much on the sidelines because I just want to get out there and… the more you run on the sidelines, the longer you're going to be on the sidelines so I try to sit on the sidelines as long as I can," he said.
"Once I get up I let them know that I'm still here. Hopefully he [Daley] sees me and realises 'I haven't put Birdy on yet so I'll chuck him on'.
"Laurie's got a plan for me and he usually tells me I'll come on 10 minutes or five minutes after half-time, but unfortunately I only played 15 minutes in Game Two. If that's what Laurie wants then I'll do what Laurie needs."
Bird's greatest strength could also be his undoing with the man himself still unsure what his best position is. It's that uncertainty that makes him the ultimate weapon capable of playing virtually anywhere from the backline to the back row.
The Sharks star burst onto the scene as a five-eighth in 2015 but has spent the majority of the past two seasons at right centre; a far cry from the player who predominately lined up in the back row or at lock for the Dragons in the NYC.
His ability to play anywhere is a blessing for coaches, but Bird is keen to lock down a spot – preferably in the middle – in the not too distant future.
"To be honest, I haven't even found out what my best position is. Because I've been playing everywhere, I don't know. Hopefully one day I find my position," he said.
"I probably want to get my own position down pat, but then again, there are a lot of players who play centre, five-eighth, fullback, lock and wherever I can play, so it probably helps to be versatile where I can make these teams and get to play Origin and hopefully for Australia one day.
"If I'm stuck in one position then I might not play Origin or for Australia one day because there's a better centre than me.
"I probably enjoy playing lock a little bit more than [out wide] because I get my hands on the ball, make a few tackles and stuff like that.
"I grew up playing lock when I was younger and if he [Daley] wants me to play lock then I'll play lock. I haven't really played lock with big minutes so I'm not too sure how I'd go.
"I think the thing that I like about lock is just getting out there and playing football, getting your hands on the football and having runs.
"I probably try to play a different kind of lock style; I wouldn't be like a Paul Gallen kind of lock where it's like having another front-rower. I'd try to be like an extra fullback or five-eighth up in the front line."
This article first appeared on NRL.com