Origin still a goal for Bird in 2016
Sharks young-gun Jack Bird says he can understand why he wasn't selected by NSW Blues coach Laurie Daley for the State of Origin series opener on June 1.
Tipped by many to fill the utility role for the Blues, Bird's omission was one of the biggest talking points to come out of Monday's squad announcement.
"I'm not really disappointed. I'm still a young boy," Bird said after missing out on selection for Game One.
"I've got plenty of years ahead of me but it would've been good to make the Origin squad this year in my second year of NRL, but there are still two games left and all I can do now is focus on the Sharks here and keep playing good footy and try and get into round two.
"I've just got to keep working hard. Laurie's the coach and he's picked a good squad there so I'm confident that they can get up against the Maroons but I'm really looking forward to watching them next week."
Despite missing out this time around, the 2015 Dally M Rookie of the Year was thrilled to earn the praise of former Origin stars who had backed him to make his interstate debut.
"It's a pretty good feeling to be honest. My second year in the NRL and to get mentioned to play Origin, obviously it'd be a dream come true," he said.
"I've been dreaming of it since I was a little kid. I wasn't getting my hopes or anything like that. I wasn't expecting a phone call or anything. I didn't get let down or anything. I'm just happy that I even got a mention to be honest."
While he was overlooked for Game One, Bird knows there are still two more matches in 2016 for him to realise his childhood dream.
"Obviously it's a goal every year I play NRL. I always wanted to play Origin when I was a little kid," the Sharks centre said.
"Every season I come into the NRL so obviously last year I played Country [Origin] and I wanted to try and make that Origin squad. I knew I wasn't going to, I just thought I'd be put my best foot forward and try to.
"But this year I got a mention there and it was 50-50 but obviously I didn't make it. I'm not screwing my nose up, I'm still a young kid and learning the game. I've got a lot of improvement in me."
Having made the move from five-eighth to centre this year, Bird admitted there were areas of his game that needed to improve if he wanted to fight his way into Daley's team for Games Two and Three.
Bird scored eight tries and had seven try assists in his rookie season but has only managed to score twice and provide four assists in 2016.
"To be honest I think I can play a bit better than what I am," a candid Bird admitted.
"I don't know if it's the position I'm in, if it restricts me from getting around the field a bit, I'm not sure. But in saying that, I think I can get my hands on the ball a little bit more to try and create things."
Bird said he had spoken with Sharks coach Shane Flanagan about branching out from his role on the edge in search of more opportunities with ball in hand.
The key, he said, was choosing his moments wisely.
"I do have license but there's a time and place. I'm playing centre. I don't want to come in the middle and play as a lock every time we've got the ball," the 21-year-old said.
"I think I've just got to do a little bit more. He does give me a license to do it and sometimes I'm not doing it when I think I should be. Maybe I should be trying to get out there and get my hands on the ball a little bit more.
"We get in some good ball positions and I can't be sweeping around like an extra fullback because we've got Benny (Ben Barba) there.
"Some plays they don't really need me so I just stick to my edge. I think when we get down in our end, I think I can take a bit more runs and try and get us out of there."
Bird said he was happy for Sea Eagles utility back Dylan Walker to make his NSW debut, even if it was at his expense.
"There was talk about a utility and I would've been happy enough to take that but obviously they brought Dylan Walker up and I think he can do a good job there. I think he's a good player," he said.
"Dylan Walker's been playing five-eighth and he's been around the ball a little bit more and he's fast and strong. But in saying that, I'm happy for Dylan."