Returning NSW State of Origin forward Greg Bird says he owes it to his coach and the man he displaced in the Blues side – Canterbury's Tony Williams – to put in a good performance in Origin II on Wednesday.
"I don't know mate, it's hard to comment on myself or give myself a rap [as to why I'm guaranteed a spot in the side when available] but I do look at it as a lot more pressure on me now," Bird told NRL.com.
"Forcing someone out of a winning team after such a good performance by everyone really, you couldn't fault any of the players in Game One, they all knuckled down and worked their tail off together."
Bird admitted coming in and forcing a player out of a winning team placed extra pressure on his performance.
"I've got to go out and repay Laurie [Daley] – and I guess T-Rex at the same time for giving up his position – with a good strong game."
Origin I was Williams' third game for his state after playing twice in 2012, while Bird is a veteran of 14 Origins, racking up three man-of-the match awards (two at five-eighth and one in the back row) in the process.
Heading into the crucial match, Bird also took the opportunity to take a few shots at his Queensland opponents, predicting they would again bring out some niggling tactics and calling centre Brent Tate a "hypocrite" for his comments about the Josh Reynolds tackle following Origin I.
Tate said he feared for his life after being upended in a tackle from Blues five-eighth Josh Reynolds and second-rower Beau Scott. Scott was given a Grade 1 lifting charge and escaped suspension with an early plea. Reynolds was given a Grade 2 that would have rubbed him out of Origin II but is free to play after successfully challenging the grading, drawing criticism from north of the border.
"I found it quite hypocritical I guess. [Tate] obviously had an agenda that he was trying to do, whether he was trying to get someone suspended to miss the game but Grubby [Reynolds] is playing, Tatey's playing, he hasn't got any damage to him. I think he landed on his arse. I didn't see too much wrong with it, the way he landed he was put in a dangerous position obviously, I think it warranted the Grade 1 but nothing more."
Bird said it was hypocritical after Tate threw a punch at Bird in an Origin when Bird was lying on his back.
"I remind him every time we go into a Test match," Bird laughed.
"That's football mate, that doesn't worry me. The punches, the cheap shots, that's what I love about the game. I wish a lot of it wasn't taken out of the game by the officials and I'm sure 98 per cent of the people watching the game would love to see that style of play brought back to the arena but the way the times are these days, these things have passed."