Jack Bird’s maiden season with Brisbane couldn’t have gone any worse, a sternum injury bringing a premature finish to a sub-par year. But if Wayne Bennett is smart – Bird won’t have a second season at Red Hill.
The Broncos signed Bird on a $1 million per season contract, and despite being a State of Origin caliber player and a premiership winning centre, he simply doesn’t have a position in the side.
Thoughts of moving Bird to lock were quickly scurried after the former Shark underwent a pre-season shoulder reconstruction that saw him miss the opening rounds of the season.
While in theory, having Bird roam around the field as a lock could work brilliantly, but he couldn’t handle the defensive workload needed to become a lock.
At $1 million a year, he’s simply too expensive to be a bench utility. While he can play anywhere between the one and seven jersey, you couldn’t move any of Brisbane’s incumbent backline for him.
Darius Boyd is rthe captain, and will be the Broncos’ fullback for years to come. Corey Oates is playing State of Origin this week, while their other winger, rookie Jamayne Isaako, just debuted for the Kiwis in the middle of his breakout season.
In the centres, Jordan Kahu is an international, while James Roberts is on the verge of completing his first State of Origin series. Halves Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima have both played for their counties, while Milford has also played featured in the Origin arena this year.
The only possible solution is if Corey Oates shifts to the back-row, whether that be at Brisbane or another club. The shift would see Kahu return to the wing with Bird slotting into the centres.
Or… Brisbane could release Bird. Their star recruit, cut their losses. Set him free to flourish at another club, and save some money while they’re at it. A million dollars, to be precise. Maybe a little less when they chip in a part of his contract, but it’s still money saved.
And with the likes of Jonus Pearson and Kotoni Staggs coming through the ranks as well, Bird doesn’t have a spot in Red Hill.
Cronulla are losing both of their starting centres at seasons end, Ricky Leutele to Toronto and Jesse Ramien to Newcastle. They’ve signed Josh Morris to slot in on the left edge, but the right centre role remains open, and a Bird homecoming certainly isn’t out of the question.
He’s an undoubted talent, and true star of the game, but Brisbane isn’t the home for Jack Bird. And on a four year contract, it would be wrong to let a superstar sit on the bench until his contract expires in 2021. You can’t keep a Bird in a cage forever, it’s time to let Jack fly.