Bulldogs bracing for Bird attack
Having played plenty of representative matches at state and international level together, Josh Morris knows a thing or two about Greg Bird's toughness.
The two will come fact-to-face on Saturday afternoon when Gold Coast travel to Sydney to take on the Bulldogs, and Morris is bracing for a fired-up Bird after the Titans enforcer missed last week's clash through suspension.
"He's one of those players when you have him in your side then you lift as well. He's very inspirational and he leads by his actions," Morris said when asked about Bird's impact.
"'Birdy' is a competitor and he'll let you know he's out there on the field, whether that be a tackle or a hard run at you. I'm sure he'll cross paths with me at some stage."
The Bulldogs' try-scoring machine knows all too well what it's like to be on the end of a Greg Bird 'bellringer' and is expecting more of the same this weekend.
"He always tries to find me. He got me last year. I kind of made a little break and then he came across and got me in the ribs, so that was nice. I knew it was him straightaway. I didn't even have to look," he joked.
"I'll just do my job, but if he comes out my way then I'm sure there'll be a little battle there. He's one of their key players and we need to shut him down.
"He plays the game tough and that's why all the boys love having him in the Origin side."
Morris was quick to sidestep reports his own spot in the NSW Origin side was in jeopardy, preferring to instead focus on Canterbury's inconsistent start to 2016.
"I'm not too worried about Origin. I think the main focus at the moment is this team. We need to get on track and string some wins together. We can't go win, loss, win, loss. It's not acceptable and we need to start this week."
The Bulldogs will need to turn around a shocking recent record against this week's opponents with the Titans winning four of the past five meetings between the sides.
Back-rower Josh Jackson acknowledged how tough a side the Titans were to play, and said stopping Bird would be one of the keys to victory.
"They've definitely got the wood on us. They're a great team and they’ve got a lot of experience in there and a good mix of young guys who bring a lot of energy into the team," Jackson said.
"He [Bird] adds a lot to their team. He's one of those experienced guys that I was talking about so I'm sure he'll be looking for a big game. He brings a lot of energy and a lot of toughness to the side."
Jackson is coming off a breakthrough 2015 that saw him play all three State of Origin matches for the Blues, having already played twice for the Kangaroos in 2014.
But the 25-year-old knows past form will count for little when the representative sides are picked this year, admitting his performances in 2016 had been down on previous years.
"I'm probably a little bit disappointed in my form so far this year, particularly last weekend," he said.
"I was really disappointed with the way I played and to be picked in those teams I think you need to be pretty consistent and your form needs to be good throughout the year. I have to turn that around and that stuff will look after itself."
Another Bulldog searching for 2015 form is winger Curtis Rona, who finished behind only Semi Radradra with 23 tries last year.
The 23-year-old crossed for eight tries in the first seven rounds last season, but has managed the feat just twice at the same point in 2016.
Known for his freakish abilities to ground the ball from seemingly impossible positions, Rona is tipped to be an outside chance to creep into the Kiwis side for the upcoming Anzac clash.
While he admits New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney hasn't spoken to him lately, Rona said he is ready to make his international debut should he get the call-up.
"I'm just focused on the Bulldogs and trying to get back to last year's form and build each week. There are a few injuries in the New Zealand team, so if they did give me the opportunity then I'd be raring to go and fine to play."