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Bird wants to fly with Newtown Jets

By Todd Balym 15/02/2009 08:35:42 PM Comments (0)

Troubled star Greg Bird is attempting to salvage his rugby league season with the second-tier Newtown Jets who will formally lodge a contract for him with the NSW Rugby League on Monday.

Sacked by his NRL club Cronulla last month and denied a visa to join English Super League club Bradford last Friday, Bird attempted to play a trial with the Jets on Saturday but the shock comeback was vetoed by the NSWRL as they didn't know details of his release from the Sharks.

The Jets will lodge a contract with the NSWRL on Monday hoping to field Test five eighth Bird in the NSW Cup competition until he is either cleared for entry into the UK or receives a professional offer elsewhere.

Bird has opted not to appeal the British government visa decision until after charges against him for allegedly assaulting girlfriend Katie Milligan are settled in court in April.

"The contract will be lodged with the NSW Rugby League," said Jets director Glen Dwyer on Sunday.

"It will be interesting to see how it goes.

"We are well aware of public opinion but if the fellow was entitled to play we'd just like to indicate our interest in having him play for us.

"He would be a very valuable player. It would be most unusual to have a fellow like that available to you but you get strange situations in sport."

While Bird's preference is to link with Bradford as soon as possible, a short-term contract with the Jets will ensure he has match fitness if and when he can travel to England.

NSWRL general manager Geoff Carr said he could not allow Bird to play for the Jets at such short notice in the trial match last Saturday, but would investigate his case for registration when a contract is lodged.

"We have got to get all the information. We don't know what the deed of release was from Cronulla," said Carr.

"We will talk to Cronulla, talk to the NRL and we won't prevent him playing unnecessarily.

"We couldn't have made a call on Saturday lunchtime without having all the available information."

Meanwhile in NRL trials across the weekend South Sydney coach Jason Taylor and St George Illawarra mentor Wayne Bennett both expressed caution over their teams' whopping victories.

The Rabbitohs thumped a young Penrith side 38-4 at Coffs Harbour, with John Sutton a standout at five-eighth and recruits Colin Best and Rhys Wesser both scoring on debut.

"I was really pleased with what we managed to do, even though they fielded a fairly under-strength side," Taylor said.

"We persisted with working on the things that we've been practising, and we played right through until the end which was a great sign."

The Dragons ushered in former Test mentor Bennett's arrival with an emphatic 54-6 drubbing of the Sydney Roosters at Members Equity Stadium in Perth.

While the result led one punter to throw $1000 on the Dragons for the premiership with TAB Sportsbet, Bennett was far more circumspect.

"It was nothing. It was just a trial. You've got to keep things in perspective," said Bennett, adding tongue in cheek: "They could have kept the (Roosters) scoreboard to zero.

"I didn't read too much into any of that. We were playing a Roosters team without a lot of good players but on the other hand, the good thing was they (Dragons) did control the ball pretty well and they were pretty patient.

"They weren't panicking or thinking they had to score on every play."

The trial news wasn't good for Newcastle with winger Cooper Vuna suffering a grade two medial ligament strain in their clash with local teams and expected to miss at least six weeks.

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