Bird re-signs with Sharks until 2017

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Bird re-signs with Sharks until 2017

The tug of war over Jack Bird is officially over with Cronulla re-signing the NRL young gun until the end of 2017.

Now all Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has to do is figure out where to play him.

The NRL rookie of the year on Friday ended months of soul searching, resisting the temptation to return to ex-club St George Illawarra in 2017.

Bird, 20, was a revelation at pivot in his NRL debut year, helping Cronulla make the 2015 semi-finals.

He also earned Country Origin honours.

However, Bird had been agonising over his future after receiving a lucrative deal from the Dragons who had groomed him through the under 20s system.

Then, there was the off-season arrival at Cronulla of James Maloney and Chad Townsend who look set to bump Bird out of the Sharks’ halves in 2016.

Flanagan was happy to finally get his man but admitted he still had no idea where to play his budding star this season.

Bird looks set to vie with Valentine Holmes for the fullback spot vacated by Michael Gordon (Parramatta) or switch to the centres.

“There is a lot of competition for spots in the team, which is a great position for us to be in and Jack understands that,” Flanagan told the Sharks’ website.

“He’ll be in the team somewhere and training and trials before the start of the season will determine where that is.”

Bird claimed it did not matter where he played in 2016 despite admitting last season his preferred position was five-eighth.

“I’m not demanding a position at all. I’ll just be happy to be in the team and to play where Flano needs me to play,” he said.

Cronulla captain Paul Gallen revealed last month Bird was struggling so much with his “hard decision” that he had sat down with the young gun to offer advice.

But Flanagan said he was quietly confident of nabbing the prized signature of Bird who agreed to new terms for this season and a 12-month extension into 2017.

“The members and fans might wonder why it all took so long, but I was always confident he was going to stay,” he said.

“It was just drawn out due to the details of the contract.

“He has a long career ahead of him and it started here so we look forward to having him around for a few more years.

“Young players like Val Holmes, Ricky Leutele and Sosaia Feki are the future of our club and it’s great Jack will also be a part of it.”

Bird made his NRL debut in round four and played the next 22 games straight, scoring eight tries.

Bird’s re-signing might also affect the future of veteran Dragons pivot Benji Marshall.

The off-contract Marshall, 30, was expected to move on or retire at season’s end if Bird had opted to return to the Dragons in 2017.

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