Bird in hand for surprised locals
PLAYING for the Indigenous All Stars team rates highly on Greg Bird’s rugby league resume.
The Gold Coast Titans major signing for 2010 said he was proud of representing his heritage.
“My grandmother is aboriginal and getting an unexpected call-up to play for the indigenous team was fantastic... it was an honour to be involved,” Bird says.
On Monday Bird, along with Titans’ speedster Shannon Walker and centre Esi Tonga, visited the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Culture Centre to help members of the Gumbaynggirr community hone their rugby league skills.
Bird and his team-mates received a warm welcome from more than 40 budding league players as well as Gumbaynggirr Elder Auntie Marg Lardner.
The trio were swamped by kids from the local community who lined-up for autographs and posed for photos with their heroes before a light-hearted game of two-handed touch.
The youngsters jumped at the opportunity to test their skills against the three NRL stars, who were more than happy to take part in the fun.
Bird, who started his career in Maitland, emphasised to awestruck locals ‘it’s never too late to take up the game of league’.
“I started out playing soccer and didn’t play league until I was about 11,” he says.
“You need to be keen and love the game; train hard and eventually you will get faster and stronger.”
Walker, a Kyogle Turkeys junior, played from the age of five and moved to the Gold Coast to further his professional career.
Walker’s blistering pace has him widely tipped to make an impact with the Titans.
Tonga, younger brother of Queensland State of Origin centre Willie Tonga, hails from Dubbo and has been a regular member of the Titans’ first grade team for the past couple of seasons.
Bird presented the community with three footballs on the day, including one similar to the All Stars game at Skilled Stadium earlier this month.