He was overlooked for State of Origin honours, but Cronulla star Jack Bird is backing shock selection Dylan Walker to give Queensland hell on Wednesday week.
Walker’s selection came as a surprise to many after the Manly back was included in Blues coach Laurie Daley’s 19-man squad as a utility, despite strong claims from Bird and Penrith backrower Bryce Cartwright.
But Bird, whose Sharks outwitted Walker’s Manly side to claim an eighth straight NRL win on Saturday night, reacted positively on Tuesday to his omission.
Daley has all but confirmed Walker would make his Blues debut at ANZ Stadium on June 1.
“I’m not really disappointed. I’ve got plenty of years ahead of me,” Bird said.
“It would’ve been good to make the Origin squad this year in my second year of NRL, but there’s still two games left and all I can do now is focus on the Sharks here and keep playing good footy.
“Laurie’s the coach and he’s picked a good squad there so I’m confident that they can get up against the Maroons. I’m really looking forward to watching them next week.
“There was talk about a utility and I would’ve been happy enough to take that but obviously they brought Dylan Walker up and I think he can do a good job there. I think he’s a good player.”
The decision to include Walker comes despite Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett ending his five-eighth experiment last week, admitting the former South Sydney star would enjoy a move back to the centres.
Bird, who has stated a desire to move into the halves for the Sharks, believes it was Walker’s stint in the No.6 jumper at Manly that helped him claim an Origin berth.
Bird said he would now look to get more involved at Cronulla.
“I don’t know if it’s the position I’m in, if it restricts me from getting around the field a bit, but think I can get my hands on the ball a little bit more, try and create things,” he said.
“Defensively I feel confident in myself. I don’t think anything in defence played a part in it.
“Dylan Walker’s been playing five-eighth and he’s been around the ball a little bit more and he’s fast and strong. But in saying that, I’m happy for Dylan.”