Bird to wear special pad for "weird" sternum injury
Jack Bird is set to continue wearing a customised pad on his chest after revealing he has a "weird" sternum injury that will require ongoing maintenance.
The 23-year-old centre had not experienced a problem with his sternum until last year, an issue which resurfaced in the pre-season and again in his Brisbane Broncos debut against Wests Tigers on Friday night.
Bird's rehabilitation after shoulder surgery went according to plan in the off-season but it was bumps to his sternum that caused him the most concern. He was forced to leave one session early due to a nasty whack to that area.
"My shoulder is sweet but I hurt my sternum last year against the Titans with three minutes to go when I got a whack on it from Dale Copley's shoulder and sat out a couple of weeks," Bird told NRL.com at Broncos training on Monday.
"I haven't grown a full bone in my sternum. It isn't fully fused and has a joint in between it…and I don't know why that is.
"It is weird, but it is a weak spot of mine and so I have to wear a special pad now.
"Once I get a hit on it, it goes again.
"I got whacked on it at training and I had a little bump [against the Tigers] and hurt my sternum again and came off second best, so I'll keep on wearing the pad."
Bird said he would be doing limited contact this week ahead of the home clash with the Titans on Sunday night.
Broncos captain Darius Boyd told NRL.com that he had always admired Bird's competitive nature at Cronulla and praised how he liked to get his hands on the ball at dummy half and in general play.
Justin Hodges was a master at that for the Broncos and Bird said he aimed to follow in the former Maroons and Kangaroos centre's footsteps.
"[Against the Tigers], I felt as though I didn’t get involved too much. I don’t know if it was my mindset or if it was my sternum that held me back a little bit," he said.
"As my sternum does gets better, I am going to try and get in there and have as many runs as I can.
"I did watch Hodgo back in the day and that is why he was a class centre because he got involved and was a good defender and great attacker.
"When he comes down here [to training], I'll have a talk to him and get some words off him and try and do what he did."
Bird was tracking for a round four or five return but worked his butt off to get back early against the Wests Tigers.
"It has been a long five months of training and rehab so it is good to finally get the new colours on and be back on the field a week, or two weeks, ahead of schedule and cap it off with a win," he said.
"When the doctor cleared me early, my mindset wasn't there and then it hit me during the captain's run, and then my head and body was ready to go."
Bird's Broncos teammates have warmed to his winning attitude since his arrival from the Sharks and the 2016 premiership winner said nothing would change on that front.
"I love the game and I love to win, and if I lose then I get angry," he grinned.
"That is when my competitive nature comes into it."