Angry Anderson sets Bird free - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Angry Anderson sets Bird free

19/03/2003 08:07:29 PM Comments (0)

An angry and impassioned defence from coach Chris Anderson saved young Cronulla five-eighth Greg Bird from suspension at the National Rugby League judiciary.

Bird was found guilty of contrary conduct, but avoided a one-match ban after Anderson convinced the panel to downgrade the head-slamming offence from grade two to the most minor of misdemeanours.

Anderson was seething when the three-man panel of former hardened premiership forwards Royce Ayliffe, Mal Cochrance and Jeff Hardy initially found Bird guilty of head-slamming Melbourne front rower Rodney Howe at Toyota Park on Sunday.

Asked by judiciary chairman Greg Woods if he wished to appeal the grading, Anderson snapped: "It should be downgraded to a f***ing good tackle".

Commissioner Jim Hall said that wasn't an option, leaving Woods to intervene and instruct the panel to consider a reduced grading for Bird.

Which it swiftly did.

Bird, 19 and a rookie of just 10 top-grade games, admitted to feeling daunted at having to front the judiciary for the first time.

"I felt like I was on trial for murder," he said before offering his relief at being free to make the round-three trip to Brisbane after the Sharks' bye this weekend.

Anderson, the teenager's sole defence counsel, told the hearing of his dismay at Bird even being hauled into league headquarters.

"It beats me how you can say a 92kg player is responsible for how a 106kg player falls," Anderson said.

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