Bird building towards his best: Boyd
Jack Bird is yet to hit top gear in the halves for Brisbane but his captain Darius Boyd insists all the club is looking for is gradual improvement as he adapts to a new role and environment.
In an extensive earlier interview with NRL.com Boyd spoke glowingly of Bird's influence around the team, his competitive attitude and how he had endeared himself to teammates with his quirky and genuine character.
The NSW Blues star and 2016 premiership winner with Cronulla was signed as a blue-chip player by the Broncos.
In six games he has played at left centre or in the halves and has had one outstanding match against the Warriors.
Bird has been critical of his own performances, but Boyd said the 23-year-old was not alone in being under the pump after switching clubs.
"I remember when Anthony Milford first came to the club everyone said 'he shouldn't play five-eighth' and 'when is Milf going to play well'. Everyone was on his back," Boyd said ahead of Thursday night's home clash with Canterbury.
"James Roberts was the same when he first came here.
"Cooper Cronk went to the Roosters and everyone thought they were going to win the comp. I'm not saying Cooper has been playing bad but because they haven't had success early on the finger gets pointed at the key playmakers or the key guys.
"Jack hasn't played his best footy but I don't think he's the reason we haven't played to our potential."
Bird returned to 2018 action several weeks earlier than expected from shoulder surgery and has also battled a sternum injury which cut short several pre-season training sessions.
"He didn't have a full pre-season with us... then he was in the centres and now he is into halfback and that is a key role in any team and striking up combinations with Milf, Kodi [Nikorima], Andrew [McCullough] and myself is always going to take time," Boyd said.
"As long as he can keep on improving we'll be happy with that."
Boyd's own improvement after a debilitating hamstring injury has come at just the right time for the Broncos.
Brisbane are aiming to involve Boyd even more as a third playmaker as the season unfolds and five-eighth Anthony Milford said his creative skill and communication were already reaping rewards.
"Darius plays a big part in directing us halves around the park and to certain points on the field because he has a real good footy brain," Milford told NRL.com.
"He has good sleight of hand and when he comes into the halves as a first receiver he is real good at picking which way to go. He has been a massive help to me, Jack and Kodi."
Milford is not going to change his ad-lib style and the Broncos reaped the rewards last week when his decision to run on the final play led to a superb Brisbane try to Boyd.
"I am a real big believer in playing that way and I am always going to back myself 100 per cent," Milford said.
"That is just a natural thing for me but I have to practice that a lot on the training field so it comes off in a game more often than not."
Milford has not been mentioned as a Queensland contender this year after making his Holden State of Origin debut in the series opener last season, but his desire to represents the Maroons burns bright.
Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Tickets available at NRL.com/tickets.