Confident Bird ready for starting role
Impressive New South Wales debutant Jack Bird is confident he can step into a starting role in the halves in Game Three in Sydney on June 13 but doesn't want to wear the No.7 jersey.
A shoulder injury looks almost certain to rule Blues halfback Adam Reynolds out of the third game of the 2016 Holden State of Origin Series, the Rabbitohs No.7 to have scans to determine the extent of the injury when he returns to Sydney on Thursday.
In the immediate aftermath of his side's 26-16 loss at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night Blues coach Laurie Daley was quite certain that Reynolds would not be fit to play at ANZ Stadium in three weeks' time, the search for a halves partner for James Maloney likely to start with his Cronulla teammate.
As well as being club teammates Maloney and Bird were the starting halves for Country Origin in their loss to City Origin in Tamworth last month but Bird said after his Origin debut that he would feel more comfortable playing at five-eighth if selected.
"I had No.7 [for Country]; I prefer five-eighth. I think they just mixed the jersey numbers up," said Bird, who moved to the halves when Reynolds left the field 16 minutes from full-time.
"I haven't really played halfback, I'm probably more of a five-eighth.
"They're pretty much the same position these days but the matter of it in my head thinking 'halfback'... I'd try and play a different role that I'm not used to and that's where things get mixed up.
"If I had a week of training at it maybe I could pull something off but I'm not too sure."
The 21-year-old said that the experience of Origin was as fast and as crazy as he had expected but there was little doubt after the game that Bird had stamped himself as a player of Origin credentials who will become a mainstay of this Blues team.
In addition to sharing a surname Blues teammate Greg Bird sees similarities in the young Shark and has no doubt that he could tread a similar path by moving into the halves early in his Origin career.
"Yeah he's probably very similar to me really," said Bird following his 18th appearance for New South Wales.
"Came off the bench in game one [of his Origin career] and he's every chance with the injury that 'Reyno' picked up to maybe slip into a starting five-eighth role and that's exactly what I did.
"You never know what could be with that kid. He plays with intensity, he plays off the cuff, he plays what's in front of him and that's the sort of footballer that you need in State of Origin.
"The players that play what's in front of them are the players that capitalise on opportunities."
Bird, who also played halfback for Country in 2015, has played 22 of his 36 NRL games to date at five-eighth and believes having Maloney alongside him would allow him to make a smooth transition if Reynolds doesn't recover in time.
"I'm not too sure how bad the injury is but hopefully he has a speedy recovery and hopefully we can have him back for Game Three," said Bird.
"There are a lot of good five-eighths out there that are wanting this position. If I got chucked in at five-eighth... I haven't played it in a while but I think I can do it; there would be a lot of pressure on me.
"Jimmy tends to lead the team around. He does it pretty well at club footy and does it here as well.
"It would help me a lot if Jimmy was there but that's up to 'Loz' (Daley).
"He probably won't go that way to be honest but we'll just have to wait and see."