CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 11: Jack Bird of the Sharks is tackled during the round two NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Cronulla Sharks at GIO Stadium on March 11, 2017 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Short term pleasure is long term pain for Sharks with Bird

Last weekend’s victory over Canberra saw Jack Bird play his first NRL match at fullback, a masterstroke by Shane Flanagan, but one that may come back to haunt them.

Bird was a sensation at the back for Cronulla last week, running for 133 metres, as well as adding a try-assist to his stats as well. The Sharks would run out convincing winners over Canberra, but that mere 80-minute performance could have a big impact on Cronulla’s future.

Bird hasn’t exactly made it a secret that he loves to get his hands on the ball. Playing at five-eighth in his rookie season, Bird was an absolute standout, picking up the Dally M Rookie of the Year as he led Cronulla to week two of the finals, just 12 months after they collected the wooden spoon.

His stint at fullback seems to have reawakened Bird’s need to be around the footy, a move away from centre energising the Blue’s incumbent.

“I knew it’s a position that’s going to be around the ball, I like to be around the ball and that’s where I play my best football,” Bird said.

“On the weekend I started enjoying myself again and I felt alive out there.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 26: Jack Bird of the Sharks shares a joke with team mate Valentine Holmes during a Cronulla Sharks NRL training session at Southern Cross Group Stadium on September 26, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Unfortunately for Bird, his career as a fullback appears to be short lived, with Valentine Holmes named to return for the premiers at the back this weekend. Despite winning a premiership at centre, Bird is destined for a role in the spine, something Cronulla can’t offer the star.

Holmes has re-signed with Cronulla to the end of 2019, while Maloney and Townsend seem to be the club’s long-term halves, after combining to deliver the Shire a maiden premiership in 2016. If Bird’s need for more ball does require for him to leave the Sharks, he’s certainly not short of suitors.

Newcastle have publicly spoken about their want to sign Bird, with both fullback and five-eighth open for a player of Bird’s calibre to step in. Manly and St George Illawarra have also both made a play for the Wollongong junior, also offering him a role in the spine.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JULY 24: Jack Bird of the Sharks celebrates at full time following the round 20 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Newcastle Knights at Southern Cross Group Stadium on July 24, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

The financial side of his next contract will certainly have a say on his contract, his position a big factor to how much the man will earn. Centre has become one of the lowest paid positions in the game, while ‘spine’ players are deemed the most essential. If Bird was to sign with a rival in a fullback or five-eighth role, he could easily snare an extra $300,000 per season, money hard to resist for a young star.

Bird will make a call on his future later in the year, becoming one of the most sought after talents on the market. No matter where Bird plays, both in terms of position and location, he’s sure to be a bona fide superstar.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Townsend is off contract this year, and now he’s a premiership winning halfback and seeing Ben hunt sign for $1M a season Townsend’s manager Gavin Orr has said he thinks Townsend should get $1.2 million…..good luck Townsend, the Sharks will just re-sign Bird and put him at 5/8 and Maloney at Halfback

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