Corey Oates has come to the defence of Brisbane teammate Jack Bird, arguing he deserves more time to find his feet following off-season surgery and upheaval.
After four weeks, Wayne Bennett has pulled the pin on the Bird halves experiment, reverting to Kodi Nikorima as No.7 for Saturday's NRL clash with Manly.
Bird ran the ball just three times for 31 metres in last week's controversial win over Canterbury, giving Bennett little option than to switch him back to the centres.
Bird has struggled with form and confidence since arriving at Red Hill, a lull that looks set to cost him his NSW jumper.
But Oates, who will line up alongside Bird on the Broncos' left side against the Sea Eagles, said there was more to the story than meets the eye.
He said Bird couldn't be expected to instantly rebound following major off-season shoulder surgery.
Oates added that was compounded by the challenge of changing clubs and to switching to the opposite side of the field to where he's traditionally played.
"Confidence is hard to get coming straight out of massive surgery," Oates said.
"You can't expect a player to find form straight away.
"Moving clubs, positions, sides, major surgery - all of those things play on a footballer's head.
"Everyone's rallying around him. He's not playing that bad of football."
Oates argued Bird needed time to settle in the Broncos line-up and despite not finding the robust attacking form that he did during his time at the Sharks, was still sound defensively.
"He's coming off injuries, major surgery," Oates said.
"He's still playing good footy, he's not doing much wrong. He's defending pretty well.
"He's been thrown in a lot of different positions. He's having a crack and that's all we're asking of him at the start of the year.
"I feel like he's starting to find a bit of form. Slowly, every game he's getting better."