Bird happy to keep taking Ennis bait
Their history stretches back to when they were teenagers in Newcastle eager to make their mark in the game yet still Greg Bird gets sucked in to Michael Ennis's antagonistic ways.
When the Titans travelled to Southern Cross Group Stadium back in Round 6 Bird and Ennis engaged in some verbal warfare that eventually got physical and is so often the case with the wily Sharks No.9 the penalty went the way of Ennis.
From the ensuing set of six and with emotions near boiling point Bird put a hit on Cronulla five-eighth James Maloney for which he was later suspended for one week and admitted on Thursday that he is "walking on eggshells" in returning to the team this week after serving another one-game ban.
Bird and Ennis played together in the Harold Matthews Cup and SG Ball competitions through the junior grades in Newcastle and the former Shark said he thrives on the sense of competitiveness that Ennis brings out in him.
"Mick's been good at it. I've played with Mick since I was about 15 up in Newcastle so I know all his tricks," Bird said.
"That's the thing about Mick, you know it is coming but it still drives you mad.
"He's good at what he does, it's a tactic that he's used his whole career and he's great at it.
"He's a great footballer as well. He's not all talk, he's got good skill and he's really been leading their big guys around the park this year.
"It's going to be good coming up against him. He's a good mate of mine and being his last season he's probably going to want to go out with a bang and we've got an opportunity here to stop their roll."
It took less than 16 minutes for Ennis to get under Bird's skin in Round 6. He first pushed a retreating David Shillington into the ruck area to earn his team a penalty and then when he took a quick tap 25 metres out Bird pounced, delivering a facial on the ground after pulling off a solid tackle.
Ennis lifted Bird's leg as he got to his feet, a minor melee ensued, Cronulla got the penalty and shortly afterwards extended their lead from eight points to 14 with a try to Matt Prior.
Bird is ready again to play with plenty of passion but admits other Titans teammates will need to keep their heads away from engaging with Ennis and firmly in the game.
"I play a 'live by the sword and die by the sword' sort of football but it is a bit frustrating. I like to play and a bit of emotion as well so if I get a little bit fired up, a little bit angry, so be it," Bird said.
"I've always played with a little bit of emotion running through the veins so it's sort of worked well for me but obviously it doesn't work for everybody.
"You've got to try and keep everyone's jobs simple and specific and make sure they're in control of what they're doing."
Titans coach Neil Henry is expecting the pair to reacquaint themselves early in the game on Monday night but is expecting his star forward to stay in control as Gold Coast look to solidify their place in the top eight.
"I think there'll be a bit of banter out there and 'Birdy' will be on his best behaviour," said Henry.
"I think he likes to play against Cronulla, against his old club like most players."