He is the secret weapon Cronulla hope will finally deliver them a maiden NRL premiership.
Six months after revealing his boredom in the centres, Sharks star Jack Bird is thrilled by the possibility of being bombed in-field in next week’s preliminary final.
Coach Shane Flanagan made the shock decision to bench starting halfback Chad Townsend late in their qualifying final win over Canberra, shifting Bird into the halves in the clutch.
What has been overlooked was his initial plan to bring bench centre Gerard Beale onto the field late in the game and inject Bird’s attacking play at lock.
“That was the plan for Flanno, to put me at lock when them big boys are getting tired and try to beat them on their inside shoulders,” Bird told AAP.
“It was something I was looking forward to actually, just to be around the ball a little bit more and get myself more involved.
“Unfortunately it didn’t work out, but I went to five-eighth and that’s the second best option.”
The NSW State of Origin representative hasn’t played a minute in the midfield at club level this year, but is salivating at the thought of making the surprise move in a grand final qualifier.
Flanagan has enjoyed the luxury of having a specialist centre in Beale or Ricky Leutele on his bench for most of this season, and could look again at using Bird’s thrust around the ruck.
Bird, who was in a battle with Ben Barba for the fullback spot in the pre-season, concedes he has heard the calls for him to eventually find his best position in the forwards.
But he hinted that it could happen sooner, against North Queensland/Brisbane next week.
“I’ve heard a few talks around saying that’s where I’ll probably end up, playing lock. I played lock when I was younger. It’s something I wouldn’t mind doing again,” he said.
“The way I play footy, I gotta be around the ball a little bit more. The more I get the ball in my hands, the better I’ll be.”
The 21-year-old admitted he has had a number of discussions with Flanagan during the year on how to get more involved during matches.
“I haven’t spoken to him about playing lock, but I’ve spoken to him about swinging on the other side of the field and that kind of stuff,” he said.
“But it’s hard at centre – you’ve got to stick to your edges. But hopefully it happens somewhere down the track, but I’m not too sure when.”