Broncos fans can wait to see the best of Jack Bird.
Broncos fans can wait to see the best of Jack Bird.

Fit Bird in line for new role at the Broncos

JACK Bird says he is the fittest he has been since his 2016 NRL premiership heroics, as the Broncos' $3 million man emerges as a contender for Brisbane's super-sub duties.

Bird will make his first playing appearance in 281 days when he returns from a knee reconstruction for the Broncos in Saturday night's trial match against CQ Capras in Rockhampton.

The former NSW State of Origin star suffered a season-ending knee injury in Round 9 last year, cruelling his second year at the Broncos following a forgettable debut in 2018.

After joining Brisbane from Cronulla on a four-year contract worth $3 million, Bird has  played only 17 NRL games in two injury-riddled seasons at the Broncos.

Injuries have not allowed Bird to produce his best for the Broncos, but he will begin his 2020 campaign in the best shape he has been in since starring in Cronulla's 2016 premiership season.

"It's been a long road," Bird said.

"Coming up to the Broncos was a pretty big move. I'm a big family man so to move away from my family was a tough decision and to be hampered with injuries out of my control has been pretty tough.

"I'm enjoying my life again. I'm back on the right path and everything has fallen into place now.

Jack Bird looks fit at training. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP
Jack Bird looks fit at training. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP

"I'm really looking forward to getting out there this year and hopefully injury-free.

"I'm the healthiest I've been in three or four years. I'm back to 92kg which I was at the Sharks.

"I'm moving really well. I'm really excited to get back out there. Hopefully I can show everyone why I'm here."

Bird will start at fullback and is expected to play about 30 minutes in his first hit-out since May 10 last year.

At 24, Bird still has plenty of time to rediscover his best and Broncos coach Anthony Seibold is searching for the ideal way to use the versatile attacking weapon.

Kiwi international Jamayne Isaako is favoured to wear Brisbane's No.1 jersey at the start of the NRL season while Darius Boyd and Kotoni Staggs shape as Brisbane's first-choice centres, leaving Bird in the mix to play a bench utility role given he can fill any backline position.

"I really haven't got any thoughts on (Bird playing utility), I'm going into the trials with an open mind," Seibold said.

"We really missed Jack last season. He was among our best players in the first eight rounds last year before he did his knee. He was a real standout and he would have been picked for the NSW Origin team if he wasn't injured.

"At the moment, Birdy is very determined, he is very fit, he's had a full preseason of 13 weeks and he will play 30 minutes against the Capras at fullback. He played a fair bit of fullback as a young gun and trained there at Cronulla.

"The beauty of Birdy is that he can play multiple positions and play them really well. Jamayne Isaako is also there at fullback and that's his best position, but he can also play on the wing.

"This is what the trials are for, I want to see who is best in what jersey."

Bird started the preseason training at centre before Seibold offered him the chance to push for the No. 1 jersey.

"Seibs came up to me just before Christmas and asked me if I wanted to train at fullback and I was pretty keen on it," Bird said.

"So it's just trying to learn the position. I haven't played there in a while, but I'm really enjoying it at the back there.

"Jamayne has been training at fullback for the whole pre-season and he's been doing a really good job, so I know it's going to be tough to take it off him.

"I'm happy to play wherever the team needs me to play. I just need to get back on the field."

BRONCOS TRIAL SQUAD: 1 Jack Bird, 2 Richie Kennar, 3 Darius Boyd, 4 Bessie Aufaga-To'omaga, 5 Jon Reuben, 6 Darren Nicholls, 7 Tyson Gamble, 8 Rhys Kennedy, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Joe Ofahengaue, 11 Jamil Hopoate, 12 Tevita Pangai Jr, 13 Patrick Carrigan, 14 Kobe Hetherington, 15 Jordan Riki, 16 Pride Petterson-Robati, 17 Lachlan Timm, 18 Jack Martin, 19 Guy Hamilton, 20, Cole Waaka, 21 Joshua James.



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