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Bird ready to make amends

By Steve Jancetic 02/07/2010 05:24:18 PM Comments (0)

On the brink of a return to the Origin arena he once seemed destined to dominate, NSW lock Greg Bird says he's ready to put 18 months of torment behind him at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night.

Bird stamped himself as an Origin player in a manner few have done before when he won man of the match awards in his first two starting appearances for the Blues in 2007-08.

But his world came crashing down just months later when he was banished from the NRL after being charged, and subsequently cleared, of glassing his girlfriend in an off-field incident that looked set to end his Origin dreams.

Now back in the sky blue after a spell in the English Super League, Bird denied he was ready to pick up where he left off but rather take his game to a new level.

"I don't think I've come full circle - it won't ever be full circle," Bird said.

"That's the way life goes, you learn from your mistakes and you don't return to the place where you got into those mistakes again.

"I've learnt a lot and I'm not going to put myself in a position where I was in before.

"I'm glad I'm back in the NSW jersey, but I feel that I've earned the jersey back on current form rather than on past performances."

While the 26-year-old says his decision to return to Gold Coast was about putting himself in the best position to win a premiership, he admits Origin is what drew him back to the NRL.

"I guess Origin was a big thing," Bird said.

"I was given my first opportunity at Origin and I loved it, it's the best of the best and you want to test yourself at the top.

"That's pretty much the main reason I came back. I still think I've got more to offer the NRL, I'm just glad I'm living it now."

While it may not be full circle for Bird, there is some symmetry in the fact he was the five-eighth in NSW coach Craig Bellamy's first game with the Blues.

Bird will line up at lock on Wednesday night, but there's little doubt he'll be given the same mission he was two years ago when he spent the night harassing Queensland halves Darren Lockyer and Johnathan Thurston.

While there is little doubt the Maroons have been a class above the Blues for some time now, nowhere is it more evident than with their key playmakers.

Bird will have a familiar face by his side when he looks to create mayhem on Wednesday night with former Cronulla teammate Paul Gallen there to re-establish the `bruise brothers' union.

"I'll get in his ear and stir him up during the week and then go out there and fire up with him," Bird said.

"He's a player that you want to have in your team, he puts 100 per cent into every run and every tackle and I think the team build's strength from his enthusiasm.

"I'll be trying to play off that - I think we fire each other up."

The Blues were given a day off on Friday and will have an opposed session against local Illawarra outfit Thirroul in Wollongong on Saturday.

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