Three Sydney clubs in line to land Broncos star
Brisbane hierarchy have told Jack Bird he is free to leave immediately as the Broncos build a salary-cap war chest in a bid to stop star back-rower David Fifita quitting to join the Gold Coast.
Bird has almost certainly played his last game in Broncos colours with Brisbane bosses giving the former NSW Origin centre permission to negotiate with rival NRL clubs.
The luckless Bird, who has played just 17 games for the Broncos in three years due to a spate of injuries, has fielded interest from three Sydney clubs with his management in talks with Canterbury, former club Cronulla and his junior outfit St George Illawarra.
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Penrith assistant coach Trent Barrett, who will replace Dean Pay at Canterbury, is a fan of Bird and believes he could reignite the 25-year-old at Belmore after his nightmare stint at the Broncos.
Bird is contracted until the end of next year, but his $975,000 contract has crippled Brisbane's salary cap and they are prepared to broker his instant release to the Bulldogs on a subsidised deal.
Bird's management are aware of Brisbane's position and have subsequently ventured into the open market to source viable options.
Bird, who won a premiership at Cronulla in 2016, could leave the Broncos before the end of this season to continue his rehabilitation from a knee reconstruction with a view to being fully fit for his future club in 2021.
It is understood the Broncos are prepared to pay around $400,000 as part of a transfer deal, which would free up more than $500,000 in their salary cap - funds that would be crucial to retaining Fifita.
The off-contract Queensland Origin forward is currently weighing up a club-record $1.25 million offer from the Titans and the release of Bird would give Brisbane additional funds to up the ante with Fifita.
Broncos legend Darren Lockyer, a member of Brisbane's recruitment-and-retention committee, said Bird's next move was in his hands.
"It's up to Jack what he wants to do," Lockyer said.
"Jack has a lot of family and friends in Sydney. He has had rotten luck coming here and at times he has probably struggled being isolated on his own in rehab and not having a lot of family and friends around him.
"I'm not aware if he wants out but it's Jack's call. He does have a contract with us next year, but if he feels like he will get back to his best physical and mental health at another club in Sydney, then it's a decision only he can make."
Since joining the Broncos in 2018, Bird has been cursed, suffering sternum and shoulder injuries and undergoing two knee reconstructions. At times, Bird has struggled mentally and has made his own inquiries about a possible return to Sydney.
The last-placed Bulldogs are desperate to improve their roster and have already secured Canberra's Origin winger Nick Cotric for the 2021 season. A fully-fit Bird could bring some strike to a backline that struggles to score points.
Originally published as Three Sydney clubs in line to land Broncos star