How Bird won over Broncos captain Boyd
Whether he makes his Brisbane Broncos debut this week or not, new signing Jack Bird has been described by his captain Darius Boyd as the ultimate competitor who "either thinks he's the best or wants to be the best".
Bird, recovering from shoulder surgery, has been named in the No.19 jersey in the squad to take on the Wests Tigers in Campbelltown on Friday night after training strongly at left centre on Tuesday, his 23rd birthday.
The 2016 Telstra Premiership winner will need the final tick of approval from his surgeon before he can play.
When NRL.com sat down to have a chat to Boyd about "the Bird effect" at the club, the skipper had a grin on his face for most of the discussion.
It was clear he had a genuine fondness for the former Cronulla Sharks star, whose big personality has won over his teammates.
"Jack is a competitor at everything he does," Boyd said.
"I’ve played him in PlayStation and ping pong. He’s not that great at either, but he just wants to win and he gets angry when he doesn't.
"He throws the controls and he throws the bat. He either thinks he’s the best or he wants to be the best. It’s one of the two, and I really like that about him. He wants to be better at everything he does. For a young guy I think that shows why he has won a grand final and played for his state."
When Boyd heard the Broncos had signed Bird, he knew they were getting "a real competitor".
"When you play in the centres sometimes you can catch a bit of a cold out there if the ball is not coming your way, but Birdy for Cronulla would have five or eight dummy-half scoots a game.
"Nothing much might come from them but he was just touching the ball and wanting to have a run.
"When there was a kick-chase downfield he’d be in amongst it trying to make the second tackle or third tackle.
"To be doing that at an early age just shows his mindset that he wants to be involved and he wants to be his best and contribute.”
Boyd said Bird had made a seamless transition into his new club, with his infectious character leaving an indelible mark.
"He’s got a great personality and it’s a funny personality," Boyd grinned.
"He blows up, but it is all spirited and good-hearted. He’ll be poking fun at himself and all kinds of different things.
"I think he was a bit worried coming up from NSW and being young, just wondering what a Queensland club was going to be like, but he’s fit in with the boys really well. We treat people based on the sort of person you are not based on where you are from."
Match: Wests Tigers vs Broncos
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
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Aside from his competitive nature and larger than life personality, Bird is a bit of a throwback on the field - a genuine footballer who can play in a variety of positions.
"I just genuinely think he is a talented player with his skill, his footwork and how he reads a game,” Boyd said.
"There are a lot of things that go into being a rugby league player other than physical attributes and I think he has the whole package.
"Centre is his best position for us at this stage, but once he plays we’ll see how he goes and how we are going, and injuries could come into it.
"He could play halves, fullback or he could play lock as well. He could even play on the wing.
"It is always handy in the middle of the game if a half or fullback goes down that someone like Jack can fill in."
As Boyd wrapped up his summation of Jack Bird he related one final anecdote which he reckoned summed him up to a tee.
"We had him training in a red singlet in pre-season because he was not meant to be playing contact and it was lefts versus rights," Boyd grinned.
"Jimmy Roberts got the ball and Birdy grabbed his singlet and half-swung him onto the ground.
"It was meant to be no contact for Birdy but he was making contact on Jimmy. He just couldn't help himself. He wanted to get his shoulder in there.
"Birdy's keen, he's a winner and he wants to play. He’s excited to be here and we are excited to have him."