New South Wales lock Greg Bird has not forgotten the punch to the head he copped from Brent Tate in State of Origin two years ago, labelling the Queensland centre a hypocrite for lashing out against Josh Reynolds after a dangerous tackle in game one.
Tate admitted he feared for his safety after a dangerous tackle from the Blues five-eighth in the opening game of the series at Suncorp Stadium.
But Bird was quick to remind him of what was described by his teammates as a "dog shot" back in 2012, when Tate landed a right fist to the cheek of Bird while he was held on the ground by Greg Inglis.
"I found it quite hypocritical," Bird said. "He obviously had an agenda that he was trying to do, whether he was trying to get someone suspended to miss the game . . . but Grubby's [Reynolds] playing, Tatey's playing, he hasn't got any damage to him.
"I think he landed on his arse. I didn't see too much wrong with it - the way he landed he was put in a dangerous position obviously. I think it warranted the grade one but nothing more."
Bird's accusation against Tate on the eve of game two in Sydney is sure to go down like a lead balloon in the Maroons camp after a war of words following a controversial start to the series.
While Bird was critical of Tate's comments after game one, he insists he was unfazed by the punch, even though he reminds him of it every time they cross paths.
"I remind him every time we go into a Test match," Bird said. "That's football mate, that doesn't worry me."
But what does worry him is that the NRL has turned its back on the brutal side of the game that Bird believes most people want to see.
"The punches, the cheap shots, that's what I love about the game," he said.
"I wish a lot of it wasn't taken out of the game by the officials and I'm sure 98 per cent of the people watching the game would love to see that style of play brought back to the arena. But the way the times are these days, these things have passed."
For Bird, consecutive Origin series defeats has hurt him more than most.
Having to head home to the Gold Coast after every series' heartbreak has made it far more difficult to come to terms with the reality of yet another loss at the hands of the Maroons.
"It's definitely hard, you're living in Queensland, you don't really want to show your face after the series is done the last couple of years," Bird said. "People think of it as just a game but this is our livelihood. This is what we do for a living and to go out there pretty disappointed every year, it hurts. I'd probably prefer not to go back to the Gold Coast with that shallow feeling.
"The Titans fans don't give it to me. They do it in a friendly way, I guess, but it still cuts. It doesn't matter how friendly they say 'go Queensland' when NSW lost. It still reminds you of the feeling you had when you were out on the field and had an opportunity to do something about it and didn't."
- Sydney Morning Herald
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