Jack Bird has strengthened his claim for the Cronulla No.1 jersey, scoring two tries in the Sharks’ 30-30 NRL trial draw with the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium.
He played the first half at fullback on Saturday night before shifting to the centres for the second stanza, allowing Ben Barba to move to fullback.
However, 20-year-old Bird outshone Barba in the custodian’s role, breaking the line open to put the Sharks on the attack and picking up the scraps from a Chad Townsend bomb to open the side’s scoring.
He also scored a second-half try at right centre, a play which no doubt will excite coach Shane Flanagan, given the pace at which he hit the gap close to the tryline.
Bird’s second-half performance wasn’t without its errors, though. He fumbled a ball in his own in-goal leading to a line dropout, while he also threw what would have been a match-winning pass forward on the siren.
The 2015 rookie of the year started all but one of his games at five-eighth last season, but impressed in last week’s draw with Manly while playing at the back.
Tigers fullback James Tedesco showed signs of having a breakout 2016 season, setting up multiple tries for the home team.
Jack Littlejohn also appeared to wrap up the halfback spot for their opening-round clash with the Warriors, setting up a try for centre-turned-second-rower Chris Lawrence.
The former Manly reserve-grade half controlled the opening passages of the game well to set up an early 10-0 lead.
The Sharks levelled the scores with 10 minutes remaining, when a pinpoint-accurate cross-field kick landed perfectly in the arms of David Nofoaluma to score.
Regular Tigers half Luke Brooks will miss the opening game of the season through suspension after pleading guilty to a dangerous throw charge from last year’s final-round clash against St George Illawarra.
Both teams appeared to come through the game unscathed.