Father-to-be Bird keen on captaincy
Twelve months after having the title of co-captain stripped from him by club hierarchy, Titans forward Greg Bird is determined to win back his leadership role and lead the young playing group to a long-awaited finals series.
For the second pre-season in succession the issue of who will captain the Titans continues to swirl around the club and with a high turnover of players from 2015 it could be the most crucial decision Gold Coast coach Neil Henry has to make between now and Round 1.
Bird was stripped of the captaincy in the wake of an incident the day after his wedding in Byron Bay last December and then was embroiled in a drugs investigation for which he was later cleared in a Gold Coast court.
Amongst the players Bird is one of few genuine leaders who could inspire their teammates by their deeds on the football field and words on the training paddock. Other contenders such as Ryan James and Luke Douglas are held in very high regard in the Gold Coast community but lead with the actions rather than words, and James was the most penalised player in the competition in 2015.
Handing the James the captaincy could indeed help to repair some of those relationships with referees but it is clear that it is a position Bird covets greatly.
The Origin and Test representative missed a crucial chunk of the season due to yet another suspension for a lifting tackle from the Anzac Test and is desperate to be more of a permanent presence after playing just 29 games across the past two seasons.
"Being suspended, the change of rules has probably affected me more than anyone else because I've been suspended four times since that's happened," Bird said of the change to the laws regarding lifting tackles.
"It's something that I've been working on with our defensive coach Rohan [Smith] last year after that long suspension and I'm just excited to get back out there and be playing again.
"It's a new bunch of guys, there's going to be a new captain and I'm hoping that I can earn that position back and not just be given it."
With no representative football to play for the first time in a decade, the off-season has been an emotional roller-coaster for the 31-year-old with he and wife Becky Rochow announcing that they are expecting their first child in April.
At the 12-week scan they were told by doctors that the baby had a high risk for the fatal Edwards Syndrome and high risk for Down Syndrome.
"Our hearts broke watching our beautiful friends and family go through a similar situation this year and never thought in a million years that we would have to face this," Becky wrote on Instagram.
Eight weeks later Bird himself went public on Instagram with the 20-week scan, saying that "we are halfway there and there's no reason we can see he/she will be anything but perfect".
"It's always scary when you get some pretty tough news but we're in the clear now," Bird said this week.
"She's due in April, right at the start of the season so hopefully a couple of weeks early so it doesn't cause too much of a distraction but I'm very excited.
"It's something that I've always wanted to have, to start a family, and I'm excited it's not far away now."