The premium out of pos CTR
Jack Bird is an intriguing option as one of the few (only?) back-rowers to still have CTR eligibility in 2023. Priced at 607k or 41 points, he is on the expensive side for a centre (the seventh most expensive at the position). At a difficult position, Birdy represents some value if he’s selected on the edge for the Dragons.
If we were to isolate his 70+ minute starts on the edge in 2021/2022, we get a 15-game sample where he averages 43.9 (made up of 38.2 points in base stats, 17.1 in attack stats, and -11.6 in demerits).
If we were to allow for some improvement (including a full preseason in the back row, noting he did start last year on the edge – but was moved around frequently to the halves, centres, and lock due to injuries and his versatility on the paddock), we are projecting Bird to score between 43-48 on the edge (up to 5 points in value). These types of scores would make him a keeper at a difficult position, and a solid option to start the season with if you want to pay up for it. We note that the Dragons do have a bye in R1, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as you shouldn’t have any red dots this early and you should be able to cover him (but hopefully with someone better than Tommy Talau). Bird is very unlikely to play origin and (after his R1 bye) has a clean run of games until their next bye in R16. You could do a lot worse than 40+ points a week at centre. Intern Bilent has even suggested starting with him in the edge spot and moving him to centre once you have had the chance to fill out your forward positions a bit more, later in the season.
It wouldn’t be a Dragons article without mentioning the inconsistent half play (outside origin hero Ben Hunt – who thankfully shares an edge with Birdy) and between Amone’s indiscretions and Sullivan’s injury cloud, it’s hardly been an ideal off-season for developing combinations at the Dragons. As previously mentioned, Jack Bird can do a job at just about any position on the field and Hook’s no stranger to moving him to half or centre (which are worse for his scoring potential) if there is an injury or suspension.
At centre, Bird’s 70+ minute career average is 35. If we look at his four 2022 starts at centre, his average comes up to 45 (largely due to his 81 points in R23 where he scored two tries and a try assist against the hapless Titans beating them 46-26). If we add 2021 to this sample (PVL ball), his centre average comes down to 40.6. Obviously, this isn’t disastrous in your centre spot, but it eats away at the value you need in your starting squad and paying over the odds here means you are likely sacrificing points elsewhere.
The best-case scenario for Bird would be at lock, where he played 4 games in 2022 (all 67+ mins, including two monster 80 minute games) for an average of 51 points. His base stats are similar at edge / lock, but his attacking stats ballooned up to 23.3 playing in the middle where he can crab-run to his heart’s content. Unfortunately, it looks like Jack de Belin is nailed on for the 13 jersey – but watch out what happens in the Preseason Challenge.
Look, we’re not going to stop you if you want to start with Bird as he’s likely to be one of the best centres in 2023 – but we recommend checking out some of the other similarly priced centres who may either represent a touch more value (Valentine Holmes) or may score similarly to Bird at a lower price (Kotoni Staggs) – meaning you can gun up elsewhere in your squad.
AMATEUR IRREGULAR ROB
3 thoughts on “Jack Bird (CTR/EDG): ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS”
Wacko’s Whispers has Bird at lock round 2. Centre position is an absolute tire fire, any value in keeping some cash in the bank round 1 to look at getting in Bird in next week or do you need to get him in round 1 and work around that to save the trade?
Dont mind it, but coming off an injury we dont think you need to rush on Bird. We are going cheap at ctr to start, but wont talk you out of Bird. In that case we would say just to start with him.
Cheers for that. I think I am trying to force some PODs in the team so might need to check myself and just go with the pack. Cheapies it is.