No apologies from Bulls over Bird - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

No apologies from Bulls over Bird

By Laine Clark 29/01/2009 09:02:00 PM Comments (0)

Panned for snapping up NRL bad boy Greg Bird, Bradford coach Steve McNamara has made no apologies, saying it was "too good an opportunity to miss".

World champion Leeds' chief executive Gary Hetherington described Bradford's signing of Bird as an embarrassment to the English Super League.

Hetherington said players delisted in the NRL or sacked by clubs over off-field offences should also be banned in the northern hemisphere.

Bird was released by Cronulla earlier this month and was immediately signed by Leeds's West Yorkshire rivals.

However, the criticism has hardly bothered McNamara.

"I'm not bothered by it. He hasn't got a previous criminal record and he is innocent until proven guilty," he told English reporters.

"We felt it was too good an opportunity to miss. He will be a welcome addition, a huge asset to us."

Bird, on a contract of $360,000 per year, was stood down by the Sharks last August after allegedly assaulting his American girlfriend Katie Milligan.

He is due to face court again in Sydney on April 27 on charges of reckless wounding, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and two charges of lying to police.

Bird has maintained his innocence and Milligan has stood by him throughout the ordeal.

He is waiting for his visa application to be processed in order to link with Bradford but McNamara is confident there will be no hiccups.

"We're in constant touch with him and we've set him a conditioning program," he said.

"We are trying to get him as ready as possible for the start of the season.

"He is very enthusiastic about coming across to England."

Bird's manager Gavin Orr said it was just a matter of time before his star client received the green light from England.

"It could be any time," he told AAP.

"He's not the only player waiting. You could ask a number of NRL players who are still yet to have their visa application processed."

Indeed Bird is not alone.

So concerned are Leeds over Kiwi international and former Bronco Greg Eastwood's prolonged attempt to get a British passport that they have enlisted the help of a local MP to fast-track the process ahead of next Friday's season opener.

Time is running out for Bird to chime into Bradford's squad before their round one clash against Harlequins next Sunday.

But McNamara does not sound concerned.

"When he gets here, he will try and compete for a place like everyone else," he said.

"I have no preconceived ideas of where he will play. I see him as a world-class player who can play in a variety of positions.

"All I know is that he's a truly world-class player who will add a lot to our side wherever he plays.

"We're completely happy with the squad we have but, when you are given the opportunity to bring in a world-class player, you have to have a look at your options."

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