Bird ready for long-awaited Hurricanes debut

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Bird signed to play for the Hurricanes, his third New Zealand franchise, for the 2022 season but injured his shoulder in 2022 before the competition started and required shoulder surgery that put him out for the campaign.

He first played for the Crusaders, making 31 appearances between 2013-15. From 2016-18 he played for the Chiefs before heading to France to play 75 games for Racing 92 between 2018 and 2021. Returning to New Zealand, he signed with Wellington and, last year, shared in their Bunnings NPC triumph.

Bird said he was gutted to miss all of his first season with the Hurricanes in 2022 due to shoulder surgery being required.

"It felt like a waste when all you wanted to do was contribute. But it's great to be back this year, new facility, new team and a great vibe. The boys are going well as you can see. I'm thrilled to be able to piece together and add my bit."

As a lineout expert with a shoulder injury, it was hard to prove what he talked about when discussing lineout plays with the pack.

With several locks competing for places, it was a positive for the side and built a competitive edge.

Bird said he enjoyed his experience in France, where he spent three years and gained a lot from it. Returning after those three years, he was a different player from the one who left New Zealand.

He said he developed his understanding of the mauling, the tight play, and the defence. The northern hemisphere game was completely different. There were many more games and many more mauls in those games, which benefitted him as a tight lock.

"I feel very lucky. The best part about rugby is the people you meet and the friends you make.

"You make a bond when you're playing footy, and you're in the trenches. Last season with the [Wellington] Lions, you go into some dark places, win a title and do something special with your mates, whether winning one big game or pushing through a tough period.

"I appreciate that now I'm here at the Hurricanes. It's a new team, a great environment and a lot of good memories with great guys."

Hurricanes coach Jason Holland said having Bird in the side was vital because he was a fan of learning all he could from Bird about what he had experienced in France. He brought experience to the team, and Holland was looking for him to solidify the forward effort against the Australians.

The Hurricanes take on the NSW Waratahs at 7.05pm, Friday 17 March, at Sky Stadium.


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