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Bird signing 'a blow' to Super League

By Steve Mascord & David Beniuk 19/01/2009 06:58:40 PM Comments (0)

The chief executive of rugby league world champions Leeds has described Bradford's signing of Greg Bird as an embarrassment to Super League.

Speaking after Leeds warmed up for their March 1 clash with Manly with a 12-10 pre-season victory over Salford in Florida on Saturday, Gary Hetherington said all players delisted in the NRL or sacked by their clubs over off-field offences should also be banned in the northern hemisphere.

Australia international Bird, who has been charged over an alleged assault on his girlfriend Katie Milligan, was released by the Sharks last week and immediately snapped up by Leeds' West Yorkshire rivals.

The terms of the release included Bird agreeing to not join a rival NRL club, while the league had also threatened to de-register him.

"The signing is a blow to the reputation of the Super League," Hetherington told AAP as the Rhinos prepared to travel to Orlando en route to the UK.

"Players banned in the NRL should not be able to simply sign with a British club and this is an example of impotence from the Rugby Football League.

"There is a lack of leadership and frankly it is disappointing that a club should want to sign him."

The 24-year-old signed for one season with a further two-year option. It has emerged the NRL may consider registering him for the 2010 season.

Bird's manager Gavin Orr described Hetherington's comments as "interesting".

"That's his comments and that's fair enough," Orr told AAP.

"Greg hasn't been found guilty of anything yet.

"That's his opinion and if that's what he wants to say, that's what he wants to say."

Orr said Bradford were not concerned by Bird's need to return home mid-season to face court.

He said he had begun the process of obtaining a work visa for Bird and wasn't expecting any problems in the wake of Todd Carney's rejection after signing with Huddersfield.

"He hasn't been convicted of anything so there shouldn't be any problems in getting a visa," Orr said.

Meanwhile, organisers say they are happy with the 5,750 crowd for this year's rugby league exhibition in the US despite the figure being less than half last year's 12,500 roll-up for the Leeds-South Sydney clash.

"I'm ecstatic - there was no celebrities like Russell Crowe or Greg Norman this year," said Jacksonville Axemen official Daryl Howland.

"There are 6,000 people in Jacksonville who want to go and see rugby league for its own sake."

Leeds used only 16 players with big name signings Danny Buderus (injury) and Greg Eastwood (passport complications) unavailable. Both hope to play against Manly.

Elsewhere, NRL officials said on Monday no meeting had been scheduled with Carney.

Reports on the weekend suggested Carney would seek a meeting with league boss David Gallop to plead for inclusion in the 2009 competition.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2020 AAP

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