NSW's Bird to take on Thurston in Origin - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NSW's Bird to take on Thurston in Origin

By David Beniuk 16/05/2008 05:16:42 PM Comments (0)

NSW five-eighth Greg Bird knows better than anyone that Queensland's attack will come almost exclusively through halfback maestro Johnathan Thurston in next week's State of Origin opener, and he's given himself the job of stopping it.

Bird played alongside Thurston in last Friday's Test against New Zealand and concedes he wasn't required to do much of the playmaking in the Kangaroos No.6 jersey.

"I think that's pretty much the way he plays," Bird said.

"After playing with him in the Test he pretty much takes control of everything.

"You watch over the last few years how he plays with the Cowboys.

"He hasn't really had an established five-eighth ... He pretty much does everything and then the five-eighth just sort of runs off what he gives him, so I pretty much expect everything to come through JT."

Bird's selection at pivot for the Blues wasn't without controversy this week and the Cronulla lock confirmed he was picked ahead of ball-players like Braith Anasta for his defence.

"Just strong in defence, that's probably why they picked me at five-eighth rather than a specific ball-playing five-eighth," he told reporters.

"I'm there to toughen up our line.

"I know teams in the past always try to focus their attack towards the halves and they can't really do that against this team."

Bird might be aiming to create a human brick wall for the Maroons forwards, but he is thinking more guided missile for their playmaker.

"I suppose anyone, if they can get hold of Thurston, he's a pretty classy player so any time you want to get hold of him you want to make the best of it," he said.

"He goes to the line and brings blokes under him so he's a pretty hard attacker to read.

"We're going to be trying to squash their space a little bit.

"If you give him time to football he's going to cut us to shreds so we've got to get up on him, cut his time down."

Bird, though, has also hit back at suggestions he is a makeshift five-eighth, most notably from Parramatta coach Michael Hagan.

"I wouldn't agree with that at all," he said.

"I've played a couple of rep games at five-eighth now, I can't see why I can't be classified as a five-eighth just like the rest of them."

He has also suggested Queensland's part-time No.6 Karmichael Hunt could be swapped during the game with centre Greg Inglis, who won the Clive Churchill Medal wearing the No.6 for Melbourne in last year's NRL grand final.

"I suppose he's played a lot more five-eighth than Karmichael Hunt so if K's struggling I can probably see them trying to slip GI in there," Bird said.

Meanwhile, NSW are honing their own kicking game to take full advantage of the slippery ANZ Stadium deck, using coach Craig Bellamy's inside knowledge of Queensland's all-Melbourne back three.

"We focused on some of the players' weaknesses," Bird said.

"Some blokes are slow to turn. Some blokes are good under the high ball, some blokes aren't. So we'll be mixing it up a fair bit with our kicking game.

"Izzy (Folau's) a pretty classy player, there's not too many negatives in his game but we've got the Melbourne coach here so hopefully he's seen a couple at training."

Blues winger Anthony Quinn trained strongly at a long session on Friday after resting on Thursday with a virus.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2021 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news