Dumped Bird open to Country recall
Four years after last representing Country Origin, Titans forward Greg Bird says he is willing to once again line up for the boys from the bush in order to prove that he has much more representative football ahead of him.
Overlooked by Mal Meninga in his first game in charge of the Kangaroos against the Kiwis in Newcastle next Friday night, Bird could now be considered by Country coach Craig Fitzgibbon to play in Tamworth next Sunday.
New South Wales coach Laurie Daley has already stated publicly that he will guarantee Bird a position in the Blues team for Game One of this year's Holden State of Origin Series in Sydney on June 1 which could influence the makeup of the Country team.
Last year only four players (Josh Jackson, David Klemmer, Andrew Fifita and Daniel Tupou) appeared in the Country-City fixture before being picked to play for NSW whilst the year before eight players did the representative double.
Recognised now as a testing ground for young players with higher representative aspirations ahead of them, Bird believes it is also important to maintain the integrity of the contest with some senior players with representative experience.
"It's a little bit like that but at the same time you need some experienced players in there," said Bird, who played his junior football with the Maitland Pumpkin Pickers.
"It's not just a junior trial, it's a senior City-Country match and the best from the city and the country that aren't playing for Australia so I think there has to be some seniority in there.
"Usually when blokes don't make the Australian team they're eligible to play City-Country but I don't know where I stand with that sort of selection.
"I'd have to speak to Craig Fitzgibbon, who is the Country coach and Laurie Daley and the likes to find out what they're looking for."
Having played last year's Anzac Test where he incurred an eight-match suspension that kept him from taking any part in the 2015 Origin Series, a disappointed Bird said his only option was to continue his strong start to the season with the Titans if he is to force his way into the Four Nations squad at the end of the year.
"It's always the highlight of my year, playing rep football and being involved in those sides but I'll just go back and keep trying to play my best for the Titans and hopefully when Origin comes around I'll get a look-in there," said the 32-year-old veteran of 17 Tests and 16 Origin matches.
"We could be winning more games at the Titans, that might give a better opportunity for players to make it. I know a lot of the players that have made the team have been from winning teams but you can't really focus too much on selectors and rep sides.
"The best way to make these teams is to go out and put your best foot forward on the field for your club team and that's what I'll continue to do.
"There's another opportunity at the end of the year in the Four Nations to vie for one of those spots and hopefully I'll keep working my tail off and playing good football and earn my spot back there."
Bird's first assignment is against Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith and his men from the Melbourne Storm on Sunday, who registered a 34-16 win over the Titans back in Round 2.
Rather than seeking any kind of redemption for his selection snubbing, Bird said his only focus will be to lead his team to a much-needed victory.
"I don't think I can play with any more aggression, I might get in more strife then," he said.
"That's the way I like to play the game, I like to give it everything I've got and hopefully walk on the right side of fairness.
"We've shown in every game patches of football where we've really dominated physically, we just haven't been able to do it for long periods and haven't been able to start the game in that fashion.
"We're getting ourselves into the arm wrestle well and fighting really well when we need to but when we're attacking that line we need to be crisp with our passes, we need to choose the right options and score a few more points."