The ‘elite’ homework to make Bird No.1
BRISBANE'S newest fullback Jack Bird has shed the kilos and studied the intricacies of Dally M winner James Tedesco as he prepares for the arduous role of playing in the No.1 jersey.
The 24-year-old will begin his transition into the fullback position on Friday night, in a tantalising No.1 battle with former Cronulla teammate, Valentine Holmes in Townsville for the season opener.
Bird, who played three games at fullback in 2017 for the Sharks, began the Broncos pre-season at centre before coach Anthony Seibold spoke to him at Christmas to gauge his interest in filling the No.1 role.
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He impressed the coaching staff in the trial matches and has since taken up studying the likes of Tedesco and Warriors fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to improve his game.
Bird has had a rollercoaster career at Red Hill, being ruled out in consecutive years with season-ending injuries, including an ACL rupture in May last year.
Having bounced back from his latest setback, he has vowed to become one of the elite fullbacks in the NRL.
"I've done a bit of film on Teddy (Tedesco) and I've done a bit of film on RTS (Roger Tuivasa-Sheck)," Bird said.
"I've looked at two elite fullbacks and trying to take a leaf out of their book and trying to see what they do and how they set up plays.
"I just have to keep working hard. The more time I get there (at fullback), the better I will be.
"They're two of the best fullbacks running around in the modern era. I'm not there yet but I just have to keep working on my game and try and get better at it."
Bird has also revealed a strong pre-season has seen him shed 5kgs from his frame to handle the rigours of the fullback role, which involves the most running metres of any position.
In 2019, Tedesco and Tuivasa-Sheck topped the most runs and most run metres of any player in the NRL.
The Broncos No.1 man has this year dropped down to 91kg - the lightest he's been since he debuted for the Sharks in 2015.
"I'm probably back to my Sharks days," he said.
"I was a little bit younger then but it's the leanest I've been and the fittest I've felt. I'm feeling really good."
His first test in the fullback role will be against the Cowboys at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, with the spotlight on his opposite number, Holmes.
Both Bird and Holmes played in the premiership winning 2016 Cronulla team together, but now go head-to-head in the blockbuster Queensland derby.
"I'm looking forward to it," Bird said. "I played against him a few weeks ago. It was good fun.
"We haven't really planned too much around Val. We all know what he can do.
"If we go out there and stick to our structures … we'll be able to stop him and big Jase (Taumalolo) at the front. We just can't worry about them too much and just worry about us."