Reunited with his old Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan at St George Illawarra, Jack Bird is adamant he can thrive in the centres and recapture the sparkling form that once earned him State of Origin honours. Bird has endured a career with more downs than ups since he helped the Sharks win the 2016 premiership under Flanagan’s guidance. Several knee injuries threatened a career that was heading in the right direction when Bird won five NSW caps between 2016 and 2017. But after getting his body right, Bird’s constant changing of position at the Dragons has meant he has struggled to get back to his best. The 28-year-old has spent time in the halves and forwards but says he only has eyes for one position – centre.

“I’ve been training at centre and in the back row, but I would like to get away from the forwards and get back to the backs,” Bird said. “I’ve played my best footy under Flanno at centre, so that’s where I want to play.

“You’ve got to believe in yourself and that’s one thing that I do believe in; myself (and) that I can get back to my best, if not better. “Like I said, I’m feeling strong and fit and I’ve just got to keep improving. “Obviously I haven’t played centre in a long time, so I have to work hard, but I’m feeling fast enough to play centre.” Bird will vye with Moses Suli and Zac Lomax for a spot in the Red V’s backline, while the club also boasts promising rugby union schoolboy talent Savelio Tamale on its books.

There remains some chance Lomax will shift to fullback for next season, after being given the chance to train there and challenge Tyrell Sloan for the No.1 jersey in the pre-season. Flanagan’s no-nonsense style is tipped to give the Dragons a shake-up after years of mediocrity and Bird is appreciative of his new coach’s approach after getting dropped to reserve grade last year.

“It was probably a good wake-up call, I knew that I had to be better,” Bird said. “The main thing is I still get to do what I love doing, and that’s playing football.

“I think I’m a first grader and getting dropped back there … hopefully this year is going to be a better year for myself and the team. “I think Flanno can bring the best out of me and I don’t get dropped again.”


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