Even the NRL’s acrobatic leading tryscorer marvels at the rare skills of NSW State of Origin hopeful Jack Bird.
Cronulla winger Valentine Holmes modestly credits his young Sharks teammate for many of his 11 tries in 2016 and knows Bird wouldn’t let the Blues down if given a shot for Origin II.
Bird’s talents were on full display once again on Monday night when he stood up NSW centre Josh Morris with a sublime flick pass to put Holmes over for a crucial four-pointer in Cronulla’s thrilling 20-18 comeback win over Canterbury.
“I just love watching him play and let him do what he’s doing,” Holmes said.
“He usually beats a few players before he gets (it) to me and lucky enough he did up Morris there and got me there in the corner.”
Holmes still had plenty of work to do and on Thursday revealed how he spends hours of overtime after Sharks training sessions practising his athletic finishes that have become his trademark.
Holmes, though, believes Bird takes the cake for his unpredictability in attack.
“I’ve always just got to be aware and be awake to anything that he does,” he said of the classy utility.
“I was lucky enough to push up there and I had no idea he was going to flick that but I knew he had that in his game and he just got it around somehow.”
Veteran back-rower Luke Lewis, a 17-game NSW stalwart, also joined the chorus of calls for Bird and Sharks forward Wade Graham to included in the Blues line-up for Origin II in Brisbane on June 22.
“They’re obviously great mates (but they’re) playing great footy,” Lewis said.
“I’d have them in the team no matter what.
“Wado would bring another dimension. He’s got a lot of good ball skill, he’s aggressive in defence, he’s made for the Origin arena.
“I’ve watched him play since he was a kid and I’d love to see him run out.
“Jack Bird, we’ve all seen what he can do.
“So they wouldn’t look out of place in a blue jersey.”