Bird's chance to connect
Representing the Indigenous All Stars holds special significance for Titans’ back-rower Greg Bird, who has revealed he remains largely disconnected from his Aboriginal past.
Bird says he’s proud of his Indigenous links but while other team members are able to embrace many generations of their cultural heritage, Bird admits he knows very little about his Indigenous background.
“My grandmother on my father’s side is Indigenous – we don’t really know a lot about our cultural background,” Bird told NRL.com. “There are a lot of deep-seated family issues there and I was told not to ask questions.
“But I know I’m Indigenous – I mean I’m proud to be here, to be amongst the players in this team.”
Bird, who will run on to Skilled Park in the Indigenous All Stars jersey for a third time on February 4, said he was particularly looking forward to play alongside some stars of the game that he has not teamed with before, including Justin Hodges and Chris Sandow.
“Hopefully ‘Hodgo’ and ‘GI’ [Greg Inglis] pull up fit and I’ll have a run with them – I’ve never played with Hodgo before so that’s going to be exciting,” he said.
“And Chris Sandow as well – he had a big season last year and he has earned his spot so I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”
The talented ball-player said he wasn’t sure what tactics coach Laurie Daley would employ in an effort to regain bragging rights in the annual clash, after the Indigenous side fell 28-12 to the NRL All Stars in the contest’s second staging last February.
“I think we’ll get a little bit more into the strategy as we get a bit closer to the week,” he said. “Now everyone is just getting to know each other – there are a few new faces so [we’re] getting to know each other and getting the formalities out of the way.”
Bird said interacting with Indigenous youth in the week leading up to the game held special significance – although mixing with his team-mates and connecting with his Aboriginality was his personal highlight.
“Yeah, in the community it’s great to get out amongst [youth] and do a lot of cultural stuff and activities,” he said. “Going to WhiteWater World is always great… and I think the players get just as much enjoyment out of those rides as the kids do, so it’s good fun to enjoy it with them.
“My highlight was just to be with the guys – these are the best of the best in the Indigenous communities and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”