Bird ready to fly in to halves for Nikorima
Jack Bird has been backed by Brisbane Broncos teammates to make a successful return to the halves against the New Zealand Warriors should Kodi Nikorima fail a fitness test on Friday.
Bird has trained on the right side this week in place of Nikorima who is battling a corked thigh.
Bird played 23 times at five-eighth for the Cronulla Sharks with all bar one of those appearances in the 2015 season where he led the club to the semi-finals.
The 23-year-old was noted doing plenty of work with right centre James Roberts at Broncos training as they fine-tuned their combination.
Sam Thaiday said getting Bird more involved was a goal of the club and that slotting into the halves could unleash his creative talents.
"We probably haven't used him as much as we could," Thaiday said.
"He's still a little bit hesitant most probably within our team and our structures at the moment, so if he gets the opportunity to play in the halves and get his hands on the ball it will be great to see what he can do."
Thaiday said Bird would not be daunted by the challenge of lining up against in-form Warriors pairing Blake Green and Shaun Johnson in such a crucial match for the under-performing Broncos.
"I think Birdy is one of those players where the more you push him the more he shows you what he's got," Thaiday said.
"He's showed that in the past and if he gets his chance he will do a great job."
Korbin Sims agreed Bird could pose even more of a threat in the halves than at centre.
"I like to see him with his hands on the ball," Sims said.
"He played his best footy at Cronulla when he was getting that early ball and using his natural athletic ability to beat players and make people look silly.
"That's the good thing about utility players. He's a natural athlete, really good on his feet and good with his hands. I remember playing him in the under 20s and he was lock. He can play any position he needs to and he will do a good job of it. "
Thaiday said the Broncos were just fortunate to have a player of Bird's calibre ready to step up.
Nikorima will fly to New Zealand on Thursday with the squad and will play at halfback if he recovers in time.
"With a question mark over Kodi this week it is good to have a player like Jack Bird," Thaiday said.
"He's a different player to Kodi and looks like he has all the time in the world.
"Kodi will train with us Friday and if he gets through that session he'll more than likely be playing."