Why Bird knocked back Knights
NSW utility Jack Bird has revealed why he knocked back a mega-deal with the Newcastle Knights to join the Brisbane Broncos under Wayne Bennett next season.
Bird admitted he was all but signed to the bottom-placed club after several meetings with Knights coach Nathan Brown and visits to the Hunter, before he opted for the more stable and star-studded Broncos line-up to continue his Telstra Premiership career.
North Queensland prodigy Kalyn Ponga was the only new recruit for the Knights in 2018 at the time Bird was in negotiations and the 22-year-old saw that as a red flag after the Novocastrians missed out on several other big name players over a three-week period.
In a demonstration of the challenge that faces Knights management on the recruitment front, Bird was polite when giving his insight about the decision process, but was also honest towards the situation in Newcastle.
"I was close and leaning towards them more [than Brisbane] but they just couldn't sign anyone," Bird told NRL.com.
"The Knights' culture and living experience I was looking forward to and the club itself, but I just felt the team where it is at the moment and that they couldn't attract key players made me doubt things.
"I just didn't want to go there by myself."
While Knights coach Brown was confident last week the club could land some quality players to the roster for 2018, Bird wasn't prepared to join early and see.
Sydney Roosters and Maroons back-rower Aidan Guerra is now set to be Newcastle's second signing for next season with an announcement expected soon.
"You want to go to a team where you think you're going to win the competition," Bird said.
"I didn't want to be the only guy going there and play five-eighth with no firepower around me.
"They've got Sione [Mata'utia] and Mitch Barnett who are leading a young team and they're only going to get better, but won't be in the top eight for the next three years.
"They've got some good players but just can't seem to attract any others."
Bird now faces the prospect of joining the Broncos and playing in front of a passionate Queensland supporter base regularly next season, while also donning the sky blue jersey of New South Wales three times a year.
While he's far from the first Blues representative in the Telstra Premiership to play for a Queensland-based club, the Berkeley junior admitted he wondered how that would play out once he moved north and was surrounded with parochial Maroons fans on a daily basis.
"It did cross my mind at first but I don't really care either to be honest," Bird said.
"If they go for the Broncos and like me as a Broncos player and not a NSW player – it's a completely different thing with club footy to Origin.
"If I'm playing for their club team then surely they're not going to hate me.
"Where as if they hate me for NSW then they can hate me as much as they want.
"I can't help I was born in NSW – the better state."