Broncos consider switching centres Roberts and Bird
Brisbane are considering switching James Roberts to left centre and playing Jack Bird on the right for Saturday night’s clash with Manly at Suncorp Stadium.
Bird, who is still battling an ongoing sternum injury, has been named to return to the centres for the round-10 clash after playing in the halves for the previous four Telstra Premiership games.
Brisbane's field session on Wednesday provided a clue to what they are considering with Bird training at right centre outside Kodi Nikorima and Roberts on the left alongside five-eighth Anthony Milford.
Bird finished training early with what was understood to be a recurrence of a sternum complaint that has bugged him since last year when he was at Cronulla.
Roberts continued to train on the left outside of Milford even after Bird's early exit.
The Broncos are trying to find a position for Bird where he is most comfortable and where they can extract the maximum impact from him. He is one of the rare footballers who has a superb left to right pass. The 23-year-old said in the pre-season that, as a right centre, he had never played on the left before.
Roberts is comfortable playing on either side.
The Broncos will make a final call on their plans after Friday's field session on whether they go ahead with the switch. One of the deciding factors will be Bird's own fitness.
NRL.com columnist Steve Renouf has been calling for Roberts to be given an opportunity outside Milford for two years and believes that is where he can be at his dynamic best.
After training on Wednesday, winger Corey Oates said Bird's "change to the right to left pass" while playing on the left had been a challenge.
"He was so used to playing right [centre] and it is a big difference turning left instead of right, and he’s had to adjust," Oates said.
Oates backed Bird to fire whichever side he played on and said confidence was “hard to get” when players had been through major operations and switched clubs and positions.
Bird returned from a major shoulder operation this year.
"All of those little things play in a footballer's head," Oates said.
"Coming off injury and major surgery you see a lot of players aren’t playing their best football, but he’s still playing good footy and not doing much wrong.
"I still feel he is defending pretty well. He’s been thrown in a lot of different positions and he’s still having a crack. I’m backing him to keep improving."