Bird's relief after Origin torment
In a year of suspension and uncertainty, watching New South Wales cop a record flogging at the hands of Queensland in Game Three of the 2015 State of Origin Series was the low point of a season Greg Bird would rather forget.
As a result of an eight-game suspension stemming from the Anzac Test against New Zealand, Bird missed the entire Origin Series for the first time since 2009 and also had drugs charges of which he was later cleared hanging over his head.
So it came as something of a relief for the Blues veteran to be told by NRL.com that on Wednesday night on Fox Sports NSW coach Laurie Daley had guaranteed his place in the team for Origin I at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on June 1.
A veteran of 16 Origin matches for NSW stretching back to 2007, the 32-year-old Titans lock forward said he hopes to make up for lost time and repay the faith Daley says he intends to show.
"That's a great thing to hear at this time of year," Bird told NRL.com.
"It's no secret that our pack's ageing. Last year there were a couple of guys that were sort of moved on who are still currently playing in the NRL, blokes like Luke Lewis and 'Choccy' (Anthony Watmough).
"It's great to know that I've still got Lozza's support and hopefully I can repay that loyalty with some good football."
In camp with the Blues for the opening two games of last year's Series and sideline come game night, Bird said the "emotional rollercoaster" of his 2015 season hit its lowest ebb in the lead-up to Game Three.
Rather than travel an hour up the freeway to watch the game first-hand in Brisbane, Bird and Titans teammate Beau Falloon watched the decider with their partners at Bird's Gold Coast home, a 52-6 horror show only plunging him into greater despair.
"I was frustrated. With the suspension and everything that was going on as well, I wanted to be out there and the fact that I couldn't... It actually hit me more by the end of the series that I couldn't be there than for the first one. I couldn't even bring myself to go to the game," Bird revealed.
"I definitely had the option [to go to the game] but through the Origin Series and through that suspension it was an emotional rollercoaster some weeks.
"Some weeks I was feeling good and I wanted to be involved in Origin and be there to help the team however I could and others I didn't want to have anything to do with rugby league at all.
"When you're missing out on such a momentous occasion you go through different emotions but that last one was probably the worst I felt.
"It was a pretty emotionally charged night that one. None of us were saying too much by the end.
"Not good times but hopefully they're in the past."