Gal rips former teammate Bird's $4m mistake
CRONULLA captain Paul Gallen has pointed out where former teammate Jack Bird went wrong in moving to Brisbane this season, as reports of the 23-year-old's unhappiness in the Sunshine State emerge.
Bird has endured a horror year for the Broncos. He signed a four-year deal worth a reported $4 million but injury has limited him to just eight games.
Playing centre for the Sharks, Bird moved north because he wanted to be closer to the action at five-eighth - something Cronulla couldn't guarantee him.
He hasn't always got a gig in the halves in Brisbane and when he has played pivot he hasn't come close to matching the game-breaking exploits he showed so often in his stint in the Sydney Shire.
Bird was spotted in a Cronulla box at Southern Cross Group Stadium watching the Sharks defeat Newcastle on the weekend and while there were rumours suggesting the Brisbane recruit would like to return to his former home, Gallen said the club didn't have room in the salary cap for him.
Gallen also said it was frustrating to see Bird - who made his NSW debut in the 2016 State of Origin series - suffer through a disastrous 2018 all because he wanted to fulfil his individual ambitions of playing closer to the ball rather than do what was best for the team.
"At the end of the day, he's on about $850,000 a season and the Sharks simply do not have that in the cap next year," Gallen said on Channel 9's 100% Footy.
"I'd love to have Birdy back. You look at our roster next year ... we lose some of our outside backs. I'd love to have him back at the club but the club cannot afford that sort of money.
"That's the frustrating thing for me. I've known the kid since he was 15 or 16 years old. I had a lot of talks with him before he left.
"The money (on offer at the Sharks compared to the Broncos) wasn't that much different ... the whole chatter at the time was that he wanted to play five-eighth, that was the biggest issue.
"He wanted to have his hands on the ball, that's all he kept saying.
"I'm like, 'Mate, that's 50 per cent of the game. If you go play lock or you go play five-eighth you've got to make 20 or 30 tackles a game.' He seems to have forgotten about that part.
"When he went to Brisbane, he never got put in the five-eighth position and it never turned out well for him. He doesn't seem to be that happy."
Phil Gould questioned why Bird would leave a club he was comfortable at and criticised the modern-day fascination of players demanding to be put in certain positions rather than just doing what was best for the team.
Gallen agreed, saying the lure of team success should count for more than the appeal of getting your hands on the ball more often.
"When you get in an environment, you have to play the position that suits the team," Gallen said. "Wherever you want to play, it doesn't matter. You play the position that is best for the team to get the result.
"At the end of the day, everyone loves a winner.
"What would Jack rather do - play lock or five-eighth and score two or three tries a game and lose, or play in a team that's winning every week and playing semi-final football? That's what you'd rather be doing."