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Eels in the frame to land Sharks' Bird

NZN 24/03/2017 Steve Zemek

Cronulla are confident of retaining Jack Bird despite Parramatta joining the race for the fullback ace.

Ahead of their NRL showdown with the Sharks at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, the Eels have thrown their hat in the ring for the NSW Origin player's highly-prized signature and are reportedly in a position to match Newcastle's three-year $2.7 million offer.

With the Sharks trying to juggle their salary cap, Parramatta are in a strong position with room to move in their cap next season.

The Sharks have already locked up several of their emerging stars including Wade Graham and Valentine Holmes and coach Shane Flanagan admits all could have earned more money elsewhere.

Flanagan said he had received assurances from Bird he wanted to stay in The Shire and was hopeful of doing a deal soon.

"Securing your Matt Priors and Wades is a bit of security for Jack that this group is staying together and he's told me many times he doesn't want to go anywhere and we've just got to get a deal done," Flanagan said.

"But it's a little bit different with Jack, it takes a little bit of time and other clubs are going to try to pinch him from us but I'd like to think that he's going to stay."

The Sharks on Friday locked up Wade Graham on a two-year deal and secured prop Matt Prior for a further three seasons.

Flanagan now looks set to keep together a majority of his grand final-winning team, a major boost in their efforts to keep Bird.

Bird is already a title winner at the age of 22 and would be viewed by the Eels as the missing piece in their premiership puzzle.

It's difficult to see where Bird would fit into the Eels' line up after they re-signed five-eighth Clint Gutherson and fullback Bevan French - who occupy two positions Bird is known to favour.

Bird has made no secret that the position he is offered will have a large bearing on who he signs with.

He burst onto the scene as a five-eighth, winning the Dally M rookie of the year award in 2015, and Gutherson is capable of playing anywhere in the backline.

A halves combination of Bird and Corey Norman would be a major step for Parramatta in moving beyond Kieran Foran's painful exit last year and have the blue and gold faithful licking their lips.

Bird has starred for the Sharks since being moved to fullback over the past fortnight and it's been floated that French could move into the No.6 at the Eels.

"We never discuss recruitment," Eels coach Brad Arthur said.

"But in terms of what he offers Cronulla, he's a winner. He's a try-scorer and he's someone that competes for everything."

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