Jack Bird says talk of his State of Origin chances are folly but is keen to establish himself as a star of the future.
Bird was expecting to spend the weekend resting during the NRL representative round but will instead run out in the No.7 jersey for NSW Country in Wagga Wagga.
He said he was surprised when he received the call up into the squad and was further shocked on Tuesday when he was told he had been promoted from the bench into the halves following the withdrawal of Newcastle’s Jarrod Mullen because of a head injury.
After making his debut for the Sharks in round four, he has made an immediate impact on the competition, playing himself into further honours after just five games.
The 20-year-old said it was far-fetched to speculate if he was in contention for a Blues jersey for their Origin shield defence against Queensland but was keen to use his first senior representative honour as a stepping stone to bigger things down the track.
“I’m stoked that I’m even here,” Bird said as the NSW Country team assembled in Sydney on Monday afternoon.
“Origin is a big step for me and I’ve only played five games of first grade. Getting chucked out there playing Origin is a big call.
“But I’m happy to be named for (NSW Country).”
St George Illawarra hooker Mitch Rein will start on the bench with Bird promoted to the starting line-up for Sunday’s clash with NSW City in Wagga Wagga.
Mullen’s exit has opened the door for Bird to get his first taste of senior representative action following a stellar start to his four-game NRL career and will partner skipper James Maloney in the halves.
Country coach Trent Barrett said he’s looking forward to working with Bird and believes his versatility makes him one of the most exciting talents in the NRL.
“He’s a very good player and what I like about him is that he can play centre, back-row and in the halves,” Barrett told AAP.
“He’s got a good size about him as well, which is really important at representative level.
“I am really looking forward to getting to know him. He’s had a great start to his NRL career and this is another opportunity to further his experience.”