Bird: Wayne was good mentor for me
They are with different clubs for Thursday's coach-swap showdown, but Jack Bird says he is grateful to Wayne Bennett for advising him to honour his Broncos contract during a troubled debut season.
Bennett brought Bird to the Broncos but will coach South Sydney against an entire 17-man squad of his ex-players on Thursday night.
"Wayne spoke to me about staying at the club and doing the right thing, honouring my contract here,'' said Bird, who goes into the Souths clash with the impetus of his 12-tackle bust game against Cronulla last Saturday.
"I'm happy I stayed.
"Wayne is good for the mental challenge of football, what's going on inside your head. Wayne was a good mentor for me.''
Bird was limited to eight matches in his first season as a Bronco, requiring a sternum operation which required a plate and 10 screws to be inserted.
"It was a tough time last year, going through injuries and being away from all my family and my mates (in Sydney),'' the former Cronulla player said.
"I knew I wanted to stick it out up here. I wanted to give back to the Broncos.
"Last year was a write-off for me, but I am looking forward now.
"I'm trying to play my natural game. I got out to run hard and make breaks.
"Going up against the old coach will be a challenge. They are playing really well.''
Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess said his team would not be impacted so much by the intrigue surrounding the clash with Brisbane.
"He (Bennett) brings a lot of press wherever he goes and he's used to handling that, being at the Broncos for so many years,'' Burgess said on Fox League.
"The players are treated like superstars up there so I hear. It will be business as usual for us.''