Bennett to stick with Bird in halves

27/04/2020 Posted by admin

Jack Bird will keep his Broncos place after a sparkling match against New Zealand Warriors.Dumping Kodi Nikorima was a “tough call”, Wayne Bennett says.

But the Brisbane coach reckons he won’t be changing his halves pairing again any time soon after Jack Bird’s impressive debut at five-eighth.

Cronulla recruit Bird was retained at pivot with Anthony Milford at halfback for Friday night’s NRL clash with Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium after his last round heroics against the Warriors.

Bird stepped up in the absence of Nikorima (corked thigh) to help spark Brisbane’s upset 27-18 win in New Zealand.

The NSW State of Origin star showed enough to keep his starting spot and relegate regular halfback Nikorima to the bench upon his return from injury against the Storm.

“It was a tough call on Kodi,” Bennett said.

“But he is still in the 17 and he is a valuable player and we need him.

“He has been really positive (about demotion). He knows he is valuable and there will be opportunities for him.”

There appear to be limited opportunities in the near future after Bennett said he had long term plans for his new-look halves pairing.

“What has changed is that Jack has brought something a little bit different in Auckland,” Bennett said.

“Obviously we didn’t plan for that to happen but Kodi was injured.

“I just think it is worthwhile persevering with.

“We have made a decision. Let’s see how it works.”

Bennett said Bird would be given free rein at five-eighth.

“Jack is a natural so he is not someone you are going to put a lot of structure around – we just want Jack to play,” he said.

“I won’t put anything in his head – just go out and play football.”

Meanwhile, prop Matt Lodge (ribs) has been cleared to play Melbourne.

“He just thinks he can manage it (pain) and he did that in Auckland…so he is pretty confident,” said Bennett.

Australian Associated Press

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