Bird decision must make him happy: Gallen
Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen says his only words of advice to 2015 breakout star Jack Bird about his future is to make himself happy.
The 20-year-old Dragons junior is yet to make a call on what will be his first big NRL contract when his current two-year Sharks deal expires at the end of the 2016 season.
The process is dragging on longer than anxious Sharks fans would like but Gallen said he hasn't tried to sway the youngster one way or another.
"Probably three weeks ago we had about three days there where we spoke a fair bit about it. My biggest message to him is 'make sure you're happy because if you're happy you'll play your best football'," Gallen told media at The Star casino where the NSWRL was launching its 2016 Origin jersey on Friday.
"He asked me about myself and I gave him a bit of background on why I always stay at Cronulla basically. The biggest message to him was just be happy. I didn't want to try and influence him and if he was going to go try and make him stay because at the end of the day he's got to be happy, that's the most important thing."
"I don't want to be that older guy who has too much of an influence on his decision, I just want to give him the pros and cons of what I think or what he asks me basically. If I tell him to stay and he stays and he's not happy with it he probably won't be that happy with me!
"I've said all I have to say to him, he knows that, he's a good young kid, I get on really well with him. I'm sure the decision will be made soon."
Gallen said he understood what a big decision it was for a man barely out of his teens.
"At the end of the day he's 20 years old. It is a hard decision. I know people sit out there and think 'how's it a hard decision earning hundreds of thousands a year' but it is, because you build a bond with players," he said.
"At Cronulla we gave him a shot basically, he's really close with a lot of blokes there, especially a few of the older boys.
"But then he was born and raised down in Wollongong. He's probably been a Dragons fan his whole life. It is a hard decision for him, I've been there before and I understand how tough it is and as I said the most important thing is for him to be happy. Wherever he's happiest he'll play his best football."
The second big decision around Bird's future is where on the field he is likely to play in 2016. After a breakout season at five-eighth the club has recruited Roosters star, premiership-winner and Origin five-eighth James Maloney. Cronulla junior Chad Townsend has also returned from the Warriors, meaning there is a logjam in that position. Coach Shane Flanagan has mooted using the versatile youngster at fullback or centre.
"He's been floating around all over the place, I'm not quite sure what they're going to do there yet," Gallen said.
"He'll train wherever you want this time of year, it comes down to the way you play. He's going to be given a shot in the centres, at fullback, probably in the halves as well. Whoever performs best will get the spot. I'm not even sure where Birdy wants to play at the moment. I don't even know if he knows. He's going good though, he's fit and healthy and training well."