Bird stripped of captaincy, fined $15k
Gold Coast Titans CEO Graham Annesley has placed state and national representative Greg Bird on his final warning with the club, insisting any repeat of poor behaviour could lead to the termination of his contract.
Currently signed through until the end of the 2017 season, Bird was stripped of the co-captaincy of the Gold Coast Titans and fined $15,000 on Friday morning for his post-wedding indiscretion in Byron Bay where he was issued a criminal infringement notice for urinating in a public car park on Sunday evening.
Following a disciplinary hearing on Thursday afternoon the Titans board approved the sanctions levelled at Bird and James Roberts citing "significant brand and reputational damage" for the severity of the punishments.
Both Bird and Roberts were given formal notice that any further breaches of the NRL Code of Conduct may be viewed as grounds for termination and Annesley stressed the damage the two incidents have caused the club as they seek a major sponsor for 2015.
"This is the last thing we want to be dealing with. We're trying to point this club in the right direction, take it forward, we are looking for sponsors and this has set us back, there's no question about that," Annesley said.
"It's been difficult for Greg, it's been difficult for James, it's been difficult for everyone and we certainly don't want to be dealing with these in the future.
"Greg's obviously upset about the decision. He values the captaincy as anyone does so I'm sure that he would have preferred to keep the captaincy, there's no question about that.
"We can't be with these players 24/7 baby-sitting them every step of the way. People have to take personal responsibility for their own actions. I have to do it, you have to do it, players have to do it and hopefully this sends a message that if they can't take personal responsibility for their actions they'll be held accountable for them."
Roberts was arrested by police in late October but had charges of public nuisance and obstructing police dropped in Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday but was issued with a $3,000 fine by the Titans and also placed on a final warning.
He was sacked by both the Rabbitohs and Panthers before arriving on the Gold Coast earlier this year and will be required to undertake "an independent assessment to determine any required rehabilitation programs".
The Titans have been on a global search for a new major sponsor since midway through the 2014 season when iSelect announced that they would no longer be continuing their association with the club.
Pivotal Homes will feature on the front of the Titans jersey at the Auckland Nines and Annesley conceded that the difficult task of securing a major financial backer has been now made even tougher.
"There's no doubt that our brand and our reputation has been damaged in the community so we're trying to make that good as much as possible.
"This is not the natural business of a club. We're supposed to be doing everything we can to make this club as successful as possible and these situations make it more difficult.
"We're still in discussion with potential major sponsors, it's a very, very tough market at the moment and incidents like this make it tougher.
"These instances have affected the club and the ability to take the club forward, hence the penalties."
No decision has yet been made on the captaincy structure at the Titans for the 2015 season but Bird's co-captain for the past two seasons, Nate Myles, is favoured to be handed the role in a permanent capacity.