Representative football is the carrot which drew Greg Bird back from NRL exile and the Gold Coast enforcer already has one eye on next month’s Anzac Test.
The Titans backrower, who’ll make his 100th NRL appearance for the club on Saturday against Penrith, admits he could easily have stayed with French club Catalans when his one-year deal expired in 2009.
Instead Bird took up an offer to join the Titans, admitting all the money, lifestyle and perks of European living couldn’t match the thrill of representing his state and country.
Bird has gone on to win the 2013 World Cup with the Kangaroos and last year’s State of Origin series with NSW but one international trophy, the Four Nations, has eluded him.
The 30-year-old was part of the team beaten by New Zealand in last year’s final in Wellington and he admits he’s keen to get revenge on the Kiwis in the May 1 ANZAC Test in Brisbane.
“My form has been alright, hopefully get in there with those guys because there’s a lot of guys that have got a point to prove and hopefully a few guys back from injury as well that missed out on that Four Nations last year,” Bird said.
“The rep season, they’re the things I didn’t think I was finished with in the NRL. I hadn’t won an Origin series, which I have now, and they’re the things you don’t get to play while you’re in the Super League.”
Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens is set to name one of Australia’s oldest line-ups against the Kiwis with 10 players aged 30 or above including Bird.
But back-rower Bird says he has no issue with the team being labelled ‘Dad’s Army’.
“I don’t mind that tag at all mate,” he said.
“With age comes experience and hopefully that gets us across the line.”
Bird will join his Titans clubmates in a different redemption mission on Saturday.
The Titans were flogged 40-0 by Penrith earlier this season and will be desperate to dish something back to the Panthers this weekend.
“We can use a lot of things out of that game,” he said.
“With a few referee calls that game could have been 12-0 early on and we would have been in the box seat.
“We created a lot of opportunities in that game … a lot of things we did were good. Hopefully we’re doing them with a lot more consistency now.”