New St George Illawarra Dragons recruit Jack Bird ready to fill Jack de Belin’s No.13 jersey

“We’ll see what happens but it’s a good opportunity for me to step into the No.13 jersey if that’s what hook wants me to do. I’ll take it with both hands.

“I’ve always played lock as a kid growing up as well and I’ve always been the person to play wherever the team needs me to play.

Jack Bird believes he can return to his best at the Dragons after three injury-plagued seasons at the Broncos.Credit:NRL Photos

“If they want me to play lock, I’m happy to do so. I’d actually really look forward to playing lock, it’s up to Hook [Griffin] and the club. But I’d definitely feel comfortable in the No.13 jersey.”

De Belin remains suspended under the NRL’s “no fault” stand-down policy after his rape trial resulted in a hung jury. The retrial is scheduled for April 12, with Bird likely to jockey with Blake Lawrie, Jackson Ford and Trent Merrin for the lock spot.

Bird’s priority, however, is simply getting back onto the field. The Berkeley Eagles junior left Cronulla with a premiership ring and a shoulder injury. Things didn’t improve when he arrived at Red Hill, suffering two season-ending ACL injuries.

After the latest one, despite being contracted to the Broncos until the end of next 2021, he got the distinct impression they were keen to move him on.

“I knew they didn’t want me there,” he said. “Kevvie [new coach Kevin Walters] was saying he wanted me there, but I got a feeling he didn’t.

“They wanted to free up some cap, they let go of ‘Of’ [Joseph Ofahengaue] and Kevvie was saying he wanted him there as well.

“So the best thing for me was to start fresh. There’ll be no better feeling than playing for the Dragons.”

The Dragons is home again for Bird. He grew up in Wollongong, played for the club in the lower grades and always planned to return at some point.

“To play in front of my hometown, in front of my own family, is something I always wanted to do and never got the chance as a young fella,” he said. “I just thought to myself when I was younger that I would come back here.

“It’s happened a bit earlier than I thought.”

At his best, Bird was an automatic selection for NSW. Once he settles back into the rigours of weekly NRL football – the 25-year-old is targeting a return date somewhere between rounds one and five – he believes he can return to that level.

“Yeah, 100 per cent,” he said. “There’s no doubt that I can get back to playing my best football. It’s just a matter of timing and building that confidence back.

“I don’t really listen to the doubters. Everyone has got their word, everyone has got their opinion of me.


“I try not to listen to it because I know what I can do, they don’t know the real me.

“They only go on what they see and me being injured for the last three years, someone is going to say something.

“I know what I’m capable of. They are just people who wish they could do what we can do, but they can’t.

“I’m not really out to prove them wrong, I’m out there to prove what I can do.”

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