Bird to miss Dragons clash
Greg Bird has been found guilty of a grade two careless high tackle charge by the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night but has vowed to maintain the aggressive approach that has been the cornerstone of his game.
Bird was seeking a downgrade to a grade one careless high tackle charge stemming from a hit on Sharks five-eighth James Maloney last Sunday, a tackle that NRL judiciary counsel Peter McGrath argued was "high risk" and involved a "high degree of impact with player Maloney's head".
After almost an hour of submissions from Mr McGrath and Titans CEO Graham Annesley judiciary panel members Royce Ayliffe, Chris McKenna and Matt Cooper took less than 15 minutes to reject the Titans' plea for a downgrade, upholding the grade two charge that comes with a week on the sidelines.
Bird said that he was "very disappointed" in the verdict handed down but vowed to keep playing in an aggressive fashion when he returns to the field in Round 8 against the Bulldogs.
"I'm going to play exactly the same way. I got where I am today for tackling hard and unfortunately tackling harder than the comparables is what cost me to not get downgraded in the end," Bird said outside the Titans' offices where he made his judiciary appearance via video link.
"I've done a lot of work on my tackle technique to get the lifting out of my game with the changing of the rules and I'm pretty proud of that fact and I'll continue to do that and do what I do."
The tackle used by Mr McGrath to illustrate the appropriateness of a grade two charge was one by Jack Wighton on Jamie Soward in Round 25 last season for which the Raiders fullback took the early guilty plea and subsequent one-week suspension.
Mr Annesley argued that given the sudden drop of Maloney's body position as he went to the defensive line there was little more Bird could have done to avoid making contact with the head and neck but he was unable to convince the panel members to downgrade the charge.
Despite owning a disciplinary resume that totals 29 games of suspensions – including an eight-week ban for a lifting tackle last season – Bird had never previously been suspended for a high tackle and thought the comparison with the Wighton tackle was not like-for-like.
"[Wighton] launched himself into it and he was pretty high in contact and he made contact directly with the head," he said.
"What I felt strongest about was that my contact was with his shoulder and arm and it was a whiplash effect that caused his head to move forward.
"At the time I didn't realise that I'd made any contact with his head. I felt all the force through my chest and it's a shame that they didn't see it that way."
During his submission Mr McGrath tendered the medical report that stated that Maloney couldn't remember the incident and that his concussion was severe enough to prevent him from returning to the field.