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Bird leaves Cronulla nest, joins Brisbane

NZN 12/04/2017 Scott Bailey

Jack Bird will take flight to Brisbane in 2018 after agreeing to leave Cronulla and sign with the rival NRL club on Thursday.

Bird notified Sharks officials at training on Thursday that the Broncos had beat them and Newcastle to secure his signature, and in turn knocking back the highest re-signing offer in Cronulla's history.

It's understood that while Bird is yet to officially put pen to paper at Brisbane, he has agreed to join on a three-year deal, with a potential option for a fourth in his favour, worth up to $1 million a season.

The Broncos are unable to confirm the deal until the 10-day cooling off period is served, but the Sharks did the talking for them on Thursday afternoon.

"I am terribly disappointed that Jack has decided to move on," Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan said.

"He made his NRL debut at our club, was the NRL rookie of the year, made his debut for Origin and won a premiership all within the space of just over two years."

It will mark just the second time in the Broncos' history they have secured the move of a current NSW State of Origin player, after Glenn Lazarus in 1992.

The 22-year-old was also one of the hottest properties of the boom 2018 transfer market, which includes more than 200 games of State of Origin experience.

Where he fits into the Broncos' puzzle remains to be seen.

Coach Wayne Bennett said this week he won't consider shifting Anthony Milford to halfback to accommodate Bird, who has long wanted to play in the halves.

It means Bird would have to take a controlling stake in Brisbane's attack if he is to don the No.7 jersey.

That decision is also likely to hinge on Kodi Nikorima's influence over the next six weeks, while he replaces the outgoing Ben Hunt at No.7 as he battles a hamstring injury.

Bird could then be shifted into the middle of the field at lock, servicing a play-making role.

It is one of the few positions the 22-year-old hasn't played in at the Sharks, having run out largely as a centre but also as a fullback and five-eighth in his time there.

However the Broncos are still searching for a long-term replacement for Corey Parker, who retired at the end of last season.

They have used Josh McGuire there this season, however Bird would offer a far more attacking impetus and allow McGuire to move back to the props.

It also appears a more likely option than sending Bird back to the centres, or giving him the fullback jersey ahead of Darius Boyd.

Meanwhile the news comes less than a quarter of the way into the Sharks' premiership defence, but Flanagan insisted he had no concerns over Bird's priorities for the rest of the season.

"He is a professional and we have no doubt he will continue to give his full focus to his club," he said.

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