Bird stirred by support as meeting looms - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bird stirred by support as meeting looms

By Laine Clark 03/12/2008 08:48:55 PM Comments (0)

Greg Bird's manager says the NRL star has been heartened by news that Cronulla fans may demonstrate over his mooted sacking from the club.

Cronulla officials have confirmed Bird must attend a specially convened Sharks board meeting planned for Thursday night.

The NRL board reportedly wants to sack Bird, who is facing court on charges of reckless wounding and lying to police, and to ask the NRL to ban him for two years.

However, a text message campaign has begun asking Cronulla fans to rally outside the Sharks' leagues club on Thursday night to support the troubled player.

"Sharks fans. Planned Protest at Sharks Leagues. Thursday. Watch this space" was posted by "Sharks Tragic of Cronulla" on Wednesday morning on a News Limited site's NRL readers' comments section.

Asked if the suggested rally was a boost for Bird's spirits, manager Gavin Orr said: "Of course it is.

"If the fans are doing that, that is great.

"But I'm not going into anything more until after the meeting tomorrow night."

Bird, who has a contract with the Sharks for the next four years, will attend the meeting with Orr and his legal representative Les Nicholls.

However, Sharks chairman Barry Pierce confirmed the meeting could be pushed back to Friday if Nicholls was unable to return in time from business on the Gold Coast.

Nicholls was expected to arrive at the Sharks headquarters about 7pm on Thursday.

"The meeting is set for tomorrow night unless they (Bird's team) change it," Pierce said.

Pierce refuted reports that a meeting on Tuesday night had ratified Bird's sacking.

"That's incorrect. We had a leagues club meeting last night on our development and nothing was discussed regards to that at all," he said.

"Nothing will be done at all until tomorrow night when he comes."

On the mooted Sharks protest, Pierce said: "Everyone is entitled to their opinion for and against and all we can do is have procedural fairness and certainly we will do that."

While support for the rally gathered momentum on a fan website called Sharks Forever on Wednesday, Bird has clearly divided Cronulla supporters judging by a News Ltd site's NRL readers' comments section.

"I'm a 40 year Cronulla fan and I will be protesting if they KEEP Bird," Gunter posted on Wednesday.

English Super League club Warrington has emerged as the favourite to snap up Bird if he is sacked by Cronulla and deregistered by the NRL.

Bird has been stood down from playing or training by the Sharks since August after being charged with the alleged assault of his girlfriend Katie Milligan who suffered a fractured eye socket.

He was initially charged with maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm but that was downgraded to reckless wounding.

Bird also faces other charges including assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and two charges of lying to police.

He has denied the allegations and is set to appear in court on April 27.

But a spokesman for the Sharks' official supporters group said he would not encourage fans to attend the protest on Thursday night.

"I think that is protesting against something that hasn't happened yet," he told Macquarie Radio Network on Wednesday night.

"I wouldn't encourage them. I would say see what the board does, what their decision is if you don't agree with it there is an election coming up in a month or two and they can have their say that way."

The spokesman said the feeling was "mixed" among Cronulla supporters over the Bird saga but conceded that "every Sharks fan would love to see Greg running around in Sharks colours, no question".

But he was frustrated that the Bird drama was "dragging us through the mud".

He urged all Sharks fans to support whatever the Cronulla board came up with on Thursday night.

"Whatever decision they make we will respect and support that because we know there are a lot more issues behind it," he said.

"It's not a black and white issue ... there's a lot to take into account."

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