Having suffered boredom all year playing out in the centres, Jack Bird finally gets a chance to show what he can do with the ball in hand in Sunday’s City-Country clash.
And a NSW bench utility spot beckons for the young gun, who will run onto Tamworth’s Scully Park for Country with a point to prove to Blues coach Laurie Daley.
The 21-year-old utility is shaping as a bolter for Daley’s side, having started the 2016 NRL season strongly for the high-flying Cronulla and proven himself able to play anywhere on the park.
After bursting into grade as a five-eighth last year, the Dally M rookie of the year was shifted to centre to accommodate new teammate James Maloney this season.
Last month Bird remarked that “it gets pretty boring out there” but his shift could end up earning him his first interstate state call-up.
“I think he’s pretty excited,” Maloney said of Bird.
“He likes getting in the halves. It’s a good opportunity for him and he’s playing really good footy this year.
“And he’ll probably get his hands on the ball a little bit more tomorrow which he really enjoys.”
Despite pushing Bird out of position at club level this year, Maloney will partner in the Country halves on Sunday.
Bird was touted as a back-rower before he came into grade and put his hand up for the Sharks fullback spot, only to ultimately be beaten out by Ben Barba.
Maloney praised Bird’s versatility and composure and said he was ready made for the NSW utility spot.
“He can probably push in as a roaming forward, he’s quite a solid character and he’s just a footballer,” Maloney said.
“He just plays off instinct and he’s got natural footballing ability.
“That makes him dangerous no matter what position he plays in.”