IT’S enough to make Dragons fans wince but it’s hard to argue with Cronulla star Jack Bird when he labels his move to the Sharks the best decision he’s ever made.
The 21-year-old took a big gamble on his ability two years ago to leave the comfortable surrounds at St George Illawarra to arch-rivals the Sharks, before he’d even debuted in the NRL, in search of top grade action.
It paid of quickly, with a Country jumper just seven games into his first-grade career, at halfback no-less, for last year’s City-Country clash in Wagga.
A year on the Sharks have put the ASADA drama well behind them are sitting pretty in equal top spot on the ladder with many suggesting the club could be on track for a long-awaited breakthrough premiership.
With NRL Rookie of the Year award in his keeping and having been retained in the number seven jumper for Sunday’s match at Tamworth, Bird said the move is still paying dividends.
“It was really tough leaving the Dragons being my hometown and my home club but when I look back at it now I think it was the best move I’ve ever made in my life,” Bird said.
“I didn’t play the first few [first grade] games for the Sharks, I was in reserve grade, so I knew when I got the call-up I had to something to retain my spot.
“I started off the bench there and a week later I played five-eighth against the Roosters and I think that’s where I started making a name for myself.
“Obviously the Sharks went through a tough time there with the ASADA stuff going on but we’ve turned our backs on that now.
“I wasn’t there at the club at the time but all I can say is in my time they’ve held their head high stuck solid through it all and turned things around massively.
“I think there’s some pretty good things to come for the club in the future.”
Having so far spent the 2016 season in the centres at club level – ironically to accommodate James Maloney who he’ll partner in the halves on Sunday – Bird admits he was surprised to hold onto the Country No.7.
“I haven’t played as a half for over six months so to get the number seven jersey was a real surprise,” Bird said.
“I’ve been playing centre there at the Sharks and if I was going to make this team I thought that would be the position.
“I haven’t played in the halves in over six months so I’m really looking forward to getting that number seven on my back again and trying to mix my game up a little bit on the weekend.”
It’s the ability to fill multiple positions that has seen Bird tipped him as a potential bolter for Origin I but he isn’t buying into the discussion.
“I read something there about Loz wanting to pick a utility but to be honest I don’t really think about it too much,” Bird said.
“Maybe my versatility can help me a little bit but there’s some other great players out there with a bit of versatility to their game as well.
“I’m still young in my career and I’m not expecting a Blues jersey just yet. If it happens it happens and I’ll be cheering.