STATE OF ORIGIN
NSW enforcer Greg Bird has tipped rookie centre Josh Dugan to crack open State of Origin for the Blues and to help finally end Queensland's dominance.
After just two NRL games in the position, Dugan was named at right centre in place of the injured Josh Morris for next Wednesday's Origin fixture at ANZ Stadium.
Dugan warmed into the spot with a hat-trick for St George Illawarra against Cronulla on the weekend.
Bird, who returns to the NSW side after suspension for State of Origin I, says Dugan shapes as NSW's X-factor even though he has arguably the toughest Origin assignment possible - marking Greg Inglis.
"Dugan is someone that is going to be a little bit different," Bird said.
"I don't think anyone has really seen what he is completely capable of, what he has got potentially in him, so it is a good opportunity for him to show what he has got at centre.
"He has been OK there at St George the last couple of weeks but like everyone says, this is a massive step up and I think he is definitely capable.
"He has done it at fullback, he has excelled in rep games before and I think he will come out and have a strong game marking up against probably one of the best centres the game has seen."
After sitting sideline during NSW's epic State of Origin I win, Bird said he was grateful to be back in the Blues side.
"I was involved in the camp a little bit towards the back end of the week last time but you aren't really a part of it unless you are there on the field and watching that game was something I wished to be a part of," he said.
"Missing out on that was so hard, especially the nature of how I missed out.
"Hopefully I can have an impact on this game." - AAP