Support for dumped NSW forward Greg Bird has come from the most unlikely of quarters on Tuesday – bitter State of Origin rivals Queensland.
The 32-year-old Bird’s Origin career appears over after he was one of three changes made to the Blues team for Wednesday week’s ANZ Stadium dead rubber.
The 18-game Origin veteran forward debuted in 2007 but savoured only one series win in 2014.
Veteran Maroons prop Nate Myles thought NSW selectors had pulled the wrong rein.
“I totally don’t agree at all with the treatment of Greg Bird,” he said.
“I think he has been NSW’s most respected player over the last five to eight years.
“As a friend of mine I totally don’t think it is the right call.”
Smith – a former Test teammate of Bird – also lamented his dumping, but backed the Gold Coast Titans forward to bounce back.
“I have been lucky enough to play alongside Birdy. I love him as a bloke and footy player,” Smith said.
“It’s unfortunate he doesn’t get another chance – who knows when you get another opportunity.
“(But) I am sure he will bounce back.”
Smith also wondered why NSW could not find a place for Matt Moylan in their 17 after Wests Tigers’ No.1 James Tedesco replaced him as Blues fullback for game three.
“I feel sorry for Moylan,” Smith said of the Penrith playmaker who was dumped after two Origin games.
“It takes a few games to get the feel for the intensity of the game.
“I think he is a terrific young bloke and footballer.”
On Tedesco, Smith said: “He is just a different footballer.
“They are obviously looking for a bit of strike power – and he’s got plenty of that.”
Myles even had a good word for retiring NSW captain Paul Gallen ahead of his final Origin.
The pair have had a long running Origin feud which climaxed in 2013 when Gallen launched a flurry of punches on Myles.
Veteran Myles looked forward to one last round with the Blues bruiser.
“He’s a fantastic footballer,” Myles said.
“You always know what you are going to get from him.
“That’s why he is so good doing what he does.”