Former NSW Origin star Jack Bird will return home to St George Illawarra on a two-year deal after becoming the first major signing of new Dragons coach Anthony Griffin.
Bird, who did not play this season after suffering a knee injury at Broncos training in March, underwent a medical assessment by the Dragons on Thursday before finalising a release from the remaining year of his Brisbane contract.
The 25-year-old utility, who played junior football with Berkeley Eagles and Wests Devils in the Illawarra competition, has made five State of Origin appearances for the Blues and was a member of Cronulla’s 2016 premiership-winning team.
However, Bird is yet to play for St George Illawarra at NRL level after leaving in 2015 to join the Sharks, for whom he played 67 matches in three seasons.
Injuries restricted Bird to just 17 appearances for the Broncos in three years after his 2019 season was ended prematurely by a knee injury and he again underwent surgery after the training mishap in March.
"It's great to see Jack return to the Dragons with him being a local junior as well as his capabilities as a player," general manager of football Ben Haran said.
"We wanted to ensure that Jack returning to the Dragons was right for us as a club, which is why we exercised due diligence around his well-documented injury troubles.
"Jack's a real competitor with a winning attitude and is a player who attacks the game each and every time he plays. We're looking forward to seeing him bring that to the Dragons upon his return."
Brisbane CEO Paul White thanked Bird for his service to the Broncos.
“Jack is a really good young man who did an honourable job battling through injury when he first arrived with us, then played some fantastic footy in the first half of the 2019 season,” said White.
“He was then hit by a bad knee injury, and again worked incredibly hard to get back into great shape for the start of 2020 before going down with a season-ending injury on the eve of Round 1.
“Through all of his misfortune, Jack has always continued to work hard with an aim of getting back to his best, and that should be commended. The Broncos wish Jack all the best in the future.”
St George Illawarra players will kick off pre-season training under Griffin on November 17 and the club has also signed former Sydney Roosters prop Poasa Faamausili.
However, it appears increasingly unlikely that representative forwards Josh McGuire and Joe Ofahengau will join the Dragons next season.
The Dragons have also re-signed Mat and Max Feagai, Josh Kerr, Jackson Ford, Mikaele Ravalawa, Adam Clune, Junior Amone and Tyrell Sloan for their 2021 campaign.