NRL: Greg Inglis expects South Sydney teammate Adam Reynolds to miss just three weeks due to a shoulder injury suffered in Origin II.
JACK Bird looms as the new bolter for the NSW halves in Origin III, telling coach Laurie Daley: “I can do the job”.
With Blues No. 7 Adam Reynolds now sidelined indefinitely, Bird has thrown his name up among a host of potential replacements including Mitchell Pearce, Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson and Blake Austin.
Despite playing centre with Cronulla, the 21-year-old has partnered NSW five-eighth James Maloney in the Country halves for the past two years — a combination he is now keen to revive.
Indeed when Reynolds was assisted from the field in the second half, it was the confident Origin debutant who stepped up to take his place.
But rather than going into the ANZ Stadium match with the No. 7 on his back, Bird suggested he would move into the five-eighth role, allowing Maloney to again become the dominant playmaker.
“I’m down for anything,’’ Bird said when asked about replacing Reynolds. “I’ve played five-eighth before and I could do it again.
“Obviously Origin is a big arena and there would be a lot of pressure on me.
“But I can handle that.
“If they chuck me at five-eighth I can do the job. There are a lot of good contenders out there — Blake Austin, Josh Reynolds, a lot of good five-eighths. But if I get chucked in, I can do the job.”
Daley admitted Bird had put forward a case to be the Blues’ new No.6.
“Yeah. You’d certainly look at it, yeah,” Daley said.
“He’s a unique one Birdy. I’m not really quite sure what his best position is but he’s a footballer that just wants to play on the ball and he played really well.
“It was good to see he wasn’t overawed by it. None of the new guys were so that’s a positive for us.”
Indeed, after making his Origin debut off the bench at Suncorp Stadium, Bird was initially asked if he now wanted to assert himself as the Blues ‘Super Sub’ — a role previously held by NSW favourites like Kurt Gidley and Craig Wing.
Yet in a response that said much about the confidence of this rising Shire star, he said: “Ah, yeah … but obviously I’d like to start.
“Coming off the bench, I’m happy to do that. To be in this 17 is a real honour and I’ll do anything for my State.
“But as I said, I’d like to start like.”
But as for it happening this year, at ANZ Stadium?
With Reynolds on Thursday sent for scans on his shoulder, all attention suddenly turns to Roosters halfback and Blues mainstay Pearce.
Overlooked at the start of this year’s series because of ongoing personal issues, Pearce suddenly looms as the most logical choice for the No. 7 jersey if he can overcome a calf problem which has sidelined him for several weeks.
Others in the mix include Raiders duo Austin and Aidan Sezer, with Reynolds and Hodkinson also a chance of a Blues return.
One man pushing for the Cronulla young gun, however, is NSW veteran Greg Bird.
“He’s every chance of slipping into a starting five-eighth role,’’ the lock said of his namesake. “That’s exactly what I did (early in my Origin career).
“He plays with intensity, plays off the cuff, and plays what’s in front of him.
“That’s the sort of footballer you need in Origin because we’ve seen that the players that play what’s in front of them are the ones that capitalise on opportunities.”
Asked about Wednesday night’s debut, the Sharks utility said: “I knew it was going to be a tough game and I knew it was going to be fast.
“Coming up against Cameron Smith and those type of blokes, I knew what was coming my way.
“And then when I went on, it was in the middle. I haven’t played in the middle since I was a little kid.
“I’ve got a little bit of a mud gut on me now so I was getting pretty tired out there.
“Then unfortunately Adam came off with a sore shoulder so I slipped into the halves and did what I could.
“It didn’t work, but I thought I did a reasonable job.
“And I loved every minute of it.
“The only thing I would change is the result.”