NSW back-rower Greg Bird has revealed he used to get heckled on Gold Coast streets after every State of Origin series loss – but not any more.
For Greg Bird, returning to Queensland after every State of Origin series defeat had become something he’d become used to dreading.
The Gold Coast back-rower has been one of the Titans’ most-consistent players since joining the club in 2009 following a short stint with Super League club Catalans Dragons.
The 30-year-old, who debuted in 2007, has been a regular member of the Blues’ side since Game III in 2010 – the last time there was a series whitewash in favour of the Maroons.
The three series that followed all finished 2-1 in favour of Mal Meninga’s side and, although the gap was closing, Bird admitted hearing constantly just how great Queensland were each year was becoming almost impossible to bear.
So, returning ‘home’ from the 6-4 victory in Game II in Sydney last month, after wrapping up a first series success since 2005, he admits life’s become more bearable.
“It was a bit of a relief really,” Bird said.
“You go back after the third, the fourth, the fifth (series loss), then it tends to get a bit more embarrassing and shameful every time.
“You don’t really want to go out and show your face. But it was good to go back after game two and hold my head high.”
Bird’s Titans teammates Nate Myles, Dave Taylor and Ashley Harrison have frequently been on the other side during Origin but he says there’s always been respect shown between players from both sides in the throes of victory.
“Mylesy has always been great to me, post-Origin – it’s not the players on the field,” he said.
“They are always quite respectful; it’s the people off it who want to heckle you.
“The players are much more professional than to have a go at you after the game has finished.”
Victory in Brisbane on July 9 would allow the Blues to chalk up their first clean sweep in 14 years and Bird said it would eclipse the win in Sydney, which he credited as the highlight of his career.
“I haven’t won a great deal apart from the World Cup last year overseas,” he said.
“We’ve been on the bad end of eight losses in a row – it’s been embarrassing for us.
“There has been a whitewash … and to put a bit of embarrassment back on them would be pretty good.”
Canberra centre Jarrod Croker joined the Blues’ squad in Coffs Harbour on Thursday but team officials said it was not as official 18th man but to give the 23-year-old experience of being in camp.