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.”
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.
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.