Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Australian star Greg Bird has declared his desire to play five-eighth for NSW, laughing off suggestions from Willie Mason that he should play lock so Braith Anasta can slot into the Blues team for Origin I.
Bird and Anasta are fighting it out for the No.6 jersey for NSW, Cronulla's Bird expected to win the battle despite playing the majority of his club football at lock.
The 24-year-old bounced back from Friday's Centenary Test against New Zealand to help lead the Sharks out of their losing streak with a 24-18 upset of North Queensland at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday night.
Fellow Kangaroos and Blues star Mason had earlier called for Bird to return to his natural position of lock for NSW so his Sydney Roosters teammate Anasta could gain a representative recall.
But Bird wants to retain his No.6 jumper for NSW and is determined to build a dominant halves partnership for the Blues, most likely with Newcastle utility Kurt Gidley.
"I am still adamant I really want to play five-eighth for NSW if that is the way selectors want to go," Bird said.
"I wouldn't say I really put my claims forward after the Centenary Test because I didn't have quite as dominant game as I would have liked.
"If we (Gidley and Bird) both get selected I believe both him and I can work towards a strong combination."
The victory over the Cowboys continued the Sharks superb away record this year (5-1) and gets their season back on track after successive home losses.
It was also Cronulla's highest scoring game of the season, but Bird concedes the Sharks need to learn to kick on with games after racing to a 22-6 halftime lead.
"We are winning games but struggling to go on with it which is frustrating but at least we are finding ourselves on the right side of the score line," said Bird.
"We know we have a long way to go but we are persisting through our training and with what (coach) Ricky (Stuart) wants us to do.
"I think it is a cultural change under Ricky and I think we will definitely get there in the end."
Meanwhile, North Queensland pivot Travis Burns will undergo scans after injuring his left shoulder in the 44th minute against the Sharks.