Jack Bird Broncos training at the Clive Berghofer Centre. Tuesday February 19, 2019. (AAP image, John Gass)
Jack Bird Broncos training at the Clive Berghofer Centre. Tuesday February 19, 2019. (AAP image, John Gass)

Renouf backs Bird to take flight for Broncos

Brisbane legend Steve Renouf has backed Jack Bird to fire in the left-centre position he once dominated as the former NSW Origin star prepares to make a career-defining comeback with the Broncos.

Bird will play his first game of rugby league in 287 days on Saturday night when the big-name import returns for the Broncos in a pre-season hitout against Wynnum Manly at Kougari Oval.

Bird was last year trumpeted as Brisbane's star signing, only for his 2018 campaign to degenerate into a season from hell as he battled shoulder and sternum injuries that restricted him to just eight NRL games.

But after a smoother pre-season free of injury, Bird has regained fitness and confidence under new coach Anthony Seibold, who will partner the former Shark with James Roberts in the centres this season.

Renouf is Brisbane's greatest left centre, scoring 142 tries from 183 games for the club, and "The Pearl" gave his seal of approval, declaring Bird will atone for his nightmare debut season at Red Hill.

"I believe centre is his best position," Renouf said.

 

 

"Jack had a really frustrating season last year with injuries but he's fit again and I'm looking forward to seeing him play this year.

"Jack belongs in the centres. He's being thrown around all over the place but he has a natural ability to find the tryline. I like the fact he is quite robust, he reminds me a lot of Justin Hodges (former Broncos centre) in the way he approaches the game.

"Jack and James Roberts are going to be a lethal combination this season. If they get it together, anything can happen for the Broncos this year."

Bird endured a tough first season with the Broncos. AAP image, John Gass.
Bird endured a tough first season with the Broncos. AAP image, John Gass.

Bird struggled for consistency last season, playing four positions in just eight games - left and right centre, five-eighth and halfback - as former Broncos coach Wayne Bennett tried everything to find a role for the 23-year-old.

Amid his injury woes, culminating in a sternum surgery, Bird was rumoured to be considering a return to Sydney, but the new Broncos regimen is determined to extract the best of the 2016 premiership winner.

Seibold said Bird will get a brief hitout this week and is confident his new centre will deliver in 2019 after an impressive pre-season.

"It's great to see Jack back - he will play 20 minutes against Wynnum as a starting point for this year," Seibold said.

"Jack has done everything right, he has set himself up to have a good season.

"He's in a really good headspace off the field, he has been energetic, he has a great personality and we all want him to achieve this year.

Can Bird find his best form again? AAP image, John Gass.
Can Bird find his best form again? AAP image, John Gass.

"I like Jack in the centres, left centre is the best spot for him in the team at the moment, so he will get first crack at that position."

Bird will this week form a centre partnership with young gun Kotoni Staggs, who believes the 74-game NRL veteran can be Brisbane's X-factor this season.

"Jack can be our strike player," he said.

"When he was playing with the Sharks, he was a big part of their team and he can be a big part of our team this year as well."

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News Corp Australia


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