State of Origin is the last thing on Greg Bird’s mind despite providing a not so subtle reminder of what NSW missed in Gold Coast’s 30-12 NRL season opening win over Newcastle.
The often-colourful Bird admitted he was keen to make up for lost time after being suspended for the entire 2015 State of Origin series and being limited to just 12 NRL games last year.
However, he said his priority was the Titans as they looked to ditch the bookies’ wooden spoon favouritism after the wet Sunday home win over Knights.
“I’m not looking forward to the Test and Origin yet – I want to make sure my form is warranting selection,” playmaking lock Bird said.
“I’m just enjoying being back on the field.
“We’ve won one game. If we lose the next six this one means nothing.”
Bird set up two tries and amassed 197m in the wet against a disappointing Knights side that looks set to snatch the bookies’ wooden spoon favouritism from the Titans.
“We missed him terribly last year, he knows that,” Titans coach Neil Henry said of Bird.
“He’s a big part of what we do.
“He’s a handful with the ball. His leadership is valuable out there.”
Bird provided some welcome good news for Henry.
The Titans finished third-last in 2015 and their fortunes did not look like improving after Daly Cherry-Evans’ backflip, James Roberts’ contract forgery gaffe and halfback Kane Elgey’s season-ending knee injury.
However, Henry could afford to crack jokes after Bird’s heroics.
“He will be talking up his two try assists, won’t he?” Henry laughed.
“I think he’s a five-eighth trapped in a No.13 shirt but he does roll up the sleeves and gets the hard stuff done.”
Bird inspired a new-look Titans pack featuring David Shillington and Chris McQueen to help ease the burden on new halves pairing Ash Taylor and Tyrone Roberts.
Bird’s heroics helped Taylor settle early and outpoint Newcastle’s big-name signing, NSW No.7 Trent Hodkinson in just his second NRL game.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Henry said.
The Titans’ only potential concern was co-captain Nathan Friend leaving the field before halftime after receiving a head knock.
Meanwhile, Henry said he would be tempted to slot co-captain William Zillman (calf) back into fullback against Melbourne next week despite a stellar turn by David Mead in the No.1 jersey.