Brisbane recruit Jack Bird has been moved back to the centres for Saturday’s NRL clash with Manly.The Jack Bird experiment at Brisbane has taken another twist with coach Wayne Bennett moving his high-profile recruit back to the centres for Saturday’s NRL clash against Manly.
After missing the first two games of the season with a shoulder injury, Bird played his opening four games of the year in the three-quarter line before spending the past month in the halves.
Bird appeared to be hooked late in last week’s win over Canterbury, however the NSW State of Origin representative claimed he came off with a quad strain.
Kodi Nikorima has been recalled at halfback, while boom forward Payne Haas has also been included in the 17 despite lasting just eight minutes against the Bulldogs before succumbing to an ankle injury.
Bennett wasn’t the only Queensland coach making changes, with Gold Coast counterpart Garth Brennan making six.
Bryce Cartwright has been moved to the bench in favour of rookie playmaker AJ Brimson, while Konrad Hurrell and centre partner Brendan Elliott were dropped for Dale Copley and Brenko Lee.
A rib injury to Jai Arrow forced Jarrod Wallace to lock and Ryan James into the front row, however Nathan Peats is a chance of an early return against a Melbourne side that get Curtis Scott back.
“I’ve got to protect ‘Konny’ as well as the team. He’s come up with some errors and he’s beating himself up about it,” Brennan told reporters on Tuesday.
“I love Konny, lot of respect for him. I’ve got to protect him and get his confidence back whether that’s playing Queensland Cup or having a week off. He’s his harshest critic.”
In other team news, Cronulla captain Paul Gallen has also been named to return from a knee injury along with Jayson Bukuya in place of injured duo Wade Graham and Scott Sorensen.
The Sharks meet a Raiders side that will start Shannon Boyd for the injured Junior Paulo.
North Queensland have included embattled prop Scott Bolton despite his indecent assault charge, as well as possible replacement Francis Molo in what could be his first NRL match since 2015.
The Cowboys face a Wests Tigers outfit that get Russell Packer and Jacob Liddle back.
Newcastle have recalled Brock Lamb for Jack Cogger and made the surprise decision to drop Jamie Buhrer to the extended bench.
They come up against a decimated Penrith side that have named Trent Merrin despite undergoing surgery on a fractured finger on Monday.
Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson is also out again, replaced by Mason Lino.
Lastly, Canterbury have given promising talent Renouf Toomaga a debut off the bench against Parramatta, who have lost Kaysa Pritchard and Tim Mannah to injury.