NSW firebrand Greg Bird has brought a newfound calm with him on his return to State of Origin.
The Gold Coast back-rower missed the entire Origin series last year due to suspension and is relishing in his comeback to the interstate arena.
The NRL’s fourth-most suspended player, Bird is known for his aggressive, full-on approach to rugby league, especially at the representative level.
NSW prop Aaron Woods said this year, Bird had brought a clear minded, even-tempered attitude into camp that had rubbed off on the rest of the team.
“He is a leader and he brings some great talk to this footy team and some real experience too,” Woods said.
“He is an old head and he has brought some real calmness to the team. When we have got a bit frustrated about something he comes in with the boys and talks to them and calms everything down.”
Bird has even stepped away from his Origin preparation to spend time with his seven-week old daughter Finley and wife Rebecca who visited him in camp on Thursday.
31-year-old Bird has played 13 Origin matches since 2007. He said he isn’t taking his sky blue jersey for granted after watching from the sidelines last year.
“It was pretty hard missing out last year, through suspension especially, being fit and healthy but unable to contribute for the team,” Bird said.
“It was quite hard mentally. I’m very happy now I’ve got the opportunity to come out and help makes amends for the devastating loss I had to watch the boys go through.”
That devastating loss was NSW’s 52-6 shellacking in last season’s decider, a performance Bird is keen to help the Blues atone for.
“I can’t say I know how it felt for the players, I can’t say it was worse for me than them,” Bird said.
“I know they would have been going through some tough times after that game but for me personally it was hard.”