Bird happy to be doing it for dad
Heading into his second year of fulltime NRL, Cronulla's Jack Bird's desire to please a father whose own rugby league career was cut short by injury is a driving force to keep improving.
Bird has struck up strong friendships with senior Sharks players like Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen, but when it comes to needing advice, his old man Mick is still his first port of call.
Trying to avoiding the dreaded second year syndrome, it was Bird Sr that the breakout star turned to for advice.
"I haven't really spoken to them (the senior players) much about that, it's my old man I talk to about that," Bird said of his desire to avoid crashing down to earth in his second season.
"I know what to expect there and I'm going to not let that happen. I know what to expect and I'm going to keep working hard not to let that happen."
Bird reflected on his younger years playing down in Wollongong and his dad's readiness to give some frank feedback any time he had an off day.
"Ever since I was little if I played a bad game he'd yell at me and tell me I've had a bad game. I used to be scared of my old man so the next week I'd go out there and have a blinder and make him happy," Bird said.
"These days he still tells me what I did wrong. He doesn't get angry at me because I'm bigger than him now but he tells me what I did wrong!" Bird laughed.
"He's been by my side ever since day one and I couldn't appreciate that more."
Bird said his father played until his late teens while he was working in the mines but had to give footy away when he hurt his neck.
"I think he's living through me now because he couldn't do it because he hurt himself. As long as I'm making him happy that's all I can do," Bird added.
The 2015 Dally M rookie of the year insisted he still doesn't know if he'll be starting the season in the No.1 jersey after a three-way off-season tussle with Ben Barba and Valentine Holmes, but if he does get a crack his confidence will help him adapt to a role where you need to yell directions to the whole team from the back of the field.
"I'm a bit of a loud character. I get along with the boys very well. You can't be shy or nervous to tell the likes of Gal [Paul Gallen] and all that where to go," Bird said.
"You have to tell them where to go and that's how it is. They understand. You've got to have a real loud voice at the back there, I don't think it really affects me. It's a new position so obviously you get a little bit nervous back there but talking-wise I don't think I've got a problem there."
The fact Bird will be playing a new position - with James Maloney and Chad Townsend joining the club, Bird is no chance of keeping the five-eighth role - will also keep him fresh.
"Whether it's at fullback or centre I'm going to have to keep working in little things there, it gives me a fresh state of mind of what I've got to do and keeps me busy," he said.