Big Bird ticks Timmins’ boxes
IF YOU’RE a New South Wales fan, it probably feels like Shaun Timmins’ golden-point field goal in 2004 happened decades ago.
Timmins, who had previously kicked only one field goal in his first-grade career, could not have hit the ball any sweeter from 37m out to give the Blues a nail-biting 9-8 win in Game I of the series.
The result would catapult the men from south of the border to their second straight Origin shield.
Usually a back-rower or centre, the former Dragon also played at pivot in 2003 as an unstoppable Andrew Johns led the Blues to a series victory.
Many questioned Timmins’ selection in the No.6 jersey in the interstate arena, but he was a part of three wins in four games playing in that position.
There are also critics of Jack Bird’s selection at pivot for the Blues in Game III at ANZ Stadium tonight, seeing he hasn’t played there all season. His Cronulla teammate Chad Townsend has been on fire in the NRL alongside Blues halfback James Maloney, so it would have made sense to play that same combination in a dead-rubber Origin. Also, Bird looked very impressive as the utility in the Blues’ 26-16 loss in Game II, so there was an argument to keep him there.
But Timmins believes Bird is the word at five-eighth for the Blues.
“I like the way Bird plays. He’s a bit unstructured and he likes being on the ball and he’s a powerful runner,” Timmins told Australian Regional Media.
“I like that in a five-eighth, especially in Origin when you’ve got a big five-eighth who’s willing to run the ball.
“New South Wales, over the years, has had big five-eighths when they were successful – Laurie Daley was a big running five-eighth, Brad Fittler, Trent Barrett was a big running five-eighth, and I filled in there at times. Having a ball-running five-eighth like Bird will put a dent in the defensive line.”
A hard man who had 17 knee operations in his career, Timmins also likes the toughness Tyson Frizell brings to NSW. The Dragons backrower was one of the Blues’ best on debut in Game II.
“He got his chance and I thought he was outstanding. He’s earned his starting spot (named at lock for Game III),” Timmins said. “Origin footy suits him – he’s tough, he’s got good leg speed and it was great to see him in that arena going well.”
Timmins, an ambassador with the Dragons and the NRL, also threw his support behind embattled Blues coach Daley. The NSW legend has lost three of four series as the team mentor and speculation has been mounting tonight could be his last match at the helm if his outfit is whitewashed.
“I know Laurie personally – he was someone I looked up to as a player. He’s a very passionate guy. He’s done a great job with New South Wales,” Timmins said.
“He’s said in the coming years it’s going to turn again, and Laurie’s played a big part in that.”