NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 07: Jack Bird of the Broncos in action during the round five NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Brisbane Broncos at McDonald Jones Stadium on April 7, 2018 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)
Its only been one week into the NRL’s pre-season training, but that’s all the time Broncos second-rower Matt Gillett needs to be convinced Jack Bird is ready for a standout season for Brisbane.
Gillett admitted he felt sorry for Bird who had an injury-riddled 2018 debut campaign for the Broncos, only managing eight games for the club.
Bird, the former premiership winner with Cronulla, was plagued by shoulder and sternum issues throughout the 2018 season, but looks to be on the road to recovery starting the pre-season training with the squad.
The former Test back-rower believes Bird’s horrific year would be forgotten judging by what Gillett has seen from him on the training paddock.
Gillett told reporters Bird has the fire in his belly to succeed for the Broncos by getting healthy and putting in strong performances.
“I have had a couple of chats with him and he is very excited about ripping in this pre-season, being fully fit and getting out there starting the season with the Broncos in 2019,” Gillett said.
“He’s had one of those years that you don’t want to have.
“He would rather be out there with the boys riding the highs and lows. He is doing his best to get out there but it wasn’t his year.”
Bird signed a four-year deal reportedly worth $4 million dollars, but couldn’t catch a break in his first year at Brisbane.
There was speculation Bird might return home to Cronulla given his unhappy beginning at the Broncos, but Gillett has backed the near fully-fit utility to have a big impact in 2019.
“There was a lot of expectation with Birdy coming up here. He would have felt that pressure,” Gillett said.
“His shoulder was a late issue and we had to get that right. There was the sternum as well.
“You’ve got to feel for Birdy. He came up here and just wanted to put that Broncos jersey on and do it proud but he wasn’t able to do that much due to injuries this year.
“He is definitely looking forward to getting the body right and performing from round one next year.”