Jack Bird during Brisbane Broncos training.
Jack Bird during Brisbane Broncos training.

Life in the Brisbane bubble: Legend warns Jack Bird

JACK Bird has played on rugby league's biggest stages. He's experienced State of Origin footy and won an NRL grand final.

But he faces a whole new challenge when he steps out for Brisbane this year.

The club has missed finals twice in the past decade and there's a certain expectation placed on it by the devout fans who flock to Suncorp Stadium in their tens of thousands.

That expectation is win, win, and win.

It's a world away from the Shire, where loyal Cronulla fans are still on a high from winning their maiden premiership in 2016.

Yes, Bird is entering a whole new rugby league market. And Broncos legend Justin Hodges knows just how frightening it can be to wear the maroon and gold.

He spent three years playing for the Roosters in Sydney in between 193 games for Brisbane.

He knows how different it is to be a Broncos player.

New Broncos signing Jack Bird.
New Broncos signing Jack Bird.

"Brisbane is always tough. Being a one-team town there's a lot of expectation. When he comes to the Broncos there will be expectations, getting paid a lot of money," Hodges told foxsports.com.au.

"People always want you to be in grand finals, winning grand finals.

"But on the flip side is everyone wants to play (against) the Broncos. You look at the crowds they get, 30 or 40 or 50,000 people ... it's a big difference when teams down here are playing in front of 5 or 10,000.

"Every time a team comes to Brisbane they know they are coming for a tough game. But that's what comes with playing for the Broncos, the guys in Kevvy's and Alfie's (Kevin Walters and Alfie Langer) era created that.

"He's got to expect a lot of tough games, there's no easy games when you play for the Broncos."

Hodges himself won a premiership in 2006 and played in the 2015 grand final - his last game in the NRL - which they lost to North Queensland.

James Maloney and Jack Bird of the Sharks.
James Maloney and Jack Bird of the Sharks.

Former Brisbane halfback Ben Hunt explained to NRL 360 on Monday night the difference between living in Brisbane to Wollongong since his move south to join the Dragons.

He admitted he hasn't felt the same stardom that comes with being an NRL player in the Queensland capital.

"It seems like there's a bit less (attention). I expected there to be a few more fans getting around Sydney," Hunt said.

"It seems to be less than it is up in Brisbane."

Bird may find it even more tough adjusting to life in Brisbane given his allegiance to NSW.

In signing with the Broncos he's gone behind enemy lines, which could make life interesting come State of Origin time.

"The Queensland fans will love him while he's wearing the maroon and yellow, and when he puts on the sky blue he's going to be looked upon a little differently," Hodges joked.

"He'll be all right, it's pretty irrelevant."

Which position Bird plays in Brisbane is the big question mark.

There's been speculation he could slot into the backrow or even in the halves.

But Hodges wants the 22-year-old to slot in at centre - the position he occupied at Red Hill for the better part of a decade.



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