Bird wants to lock down No.13 after life as NRL nomad

Jack Bird has asked coach Anthony Griffin for the chance to lock down one role on a full-time basis, desperate to end life as a rugby league nomad after 13 positional switches in the past two years.

Bird will start at lock in St George Illawarra’s season-opener against Gold Coast on Sunday, having recovered from off-season surgery to his knee to be fit after last week’s bye.

The 27-year-old has become one of the sport’s great utilities, having played in six separate positions across his career since his debut as a five-eighth at Cronulla in 2015.

During a 128-game career, Bird has averaged a positional move once every 4.9 games with 26 in total at the Sharks, Brisbane and Dragons.

That rate has increased dramatically since arriving at St George Illawarra in 2021, with the longest run he has had in one position being eight games in the second row last year.

Bird spent part of this pre-season training at five-eighth after Talatau Amone was stood down, but made clear to Griffin he wanted clarity around his role and his desire for any move to be a long-term one.

Ultimately a knee injury and Jayden Sullivan’s development ended that switch, with Bird happy to be No.13 on Sunday and keen to lock down the position long-term.

“It’s been a bit of a shit show,” Bird told AAP of his whole career.

“The most consistent time I’ve had in one position was back at the Sharks when I played centre.

“That’s part of the game and it’s a good thing in a way that I can play so many positions.

“But it does get frustrating because I do want to play just one position and I want to get to be the best at that position.”

Bird’s run of positional changes don’t include the 2020 pre-season, when he was set to be Brisbane’s fullback before an ACL rupture ended his year after the trials.

He arrived at the Dragons the next season with his desire to play at centre, but the Wollongong junior now believes his future is closer to the middle of the field.

“The goal is to stay there at No.13,” Bird said.

“I am getting old. I’m 27, nearly 28. I feel like I am not a centre any more.

“I have lost a bit of speed. I am still pretty fast, but not where I was with injuries and stuff. I probably want to finish my career at No.13 or No.6.

“I like being around the ball and playing footy. Those two are my preferred positions.”



Starting centre (five games)

Halfback (one game)

Centre (five games)

Second row (three games)

Centre (two games)

Second row (one game)

Fullback (two games)

Centre (three games)


Second row (three games)

Five-eighth (four games)

Second row (eight games)

Lock (two games)

Centre (two games)

Lock (four games)

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