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25 July
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Bird landing unknown but Knights deal stays

Bird landing unknown but Knights deal stays STRUGGLE: The battle for Jack Bird’s signature continues with the Knights, who have tabled an offer with the Sharks star, now waiting to see if he stays at Cronulla, leaves for Brisbane or comes to Newcastle. Picture: Getty Images
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TweetFacebook Jack BirdPictures from Getty ImagesKnights coach Nathan Brown concedes he would understand if Jack Birdchoseto play in Brisbane instead of Newcastle next year but would still love the Sharks premiership star to end up in the Hunter from 2018.

The race for Bird’s signature heated up this weekwith the Broncos reportedly upping the ante considerably on the Knights original offer, which included a recent visit to the region, while current club Cronulla are also keen to keep hold of the NSW representative.

Brown said the Knights weren’t about to get in a bidding war and remains content with what has been tabled for the 22-year-old back despite the danger of losing his services north of the state border.

“Brisbane are an appealing club with10 or 12 origin and rep players, and they’re a one-townteam, which are all attractions for Jack,” Brown said.

“We had heard about it [the Broncos offer], but it doesn’t surprise me. Some clubs have the capacity to do a lot more than other clubs andBrisbane have always been a club that can attract those type of players and can afford those type of players.

“It would be great for Brisbane if it happens, but obviously we’d like him to come here. What unfolds there will unfold and we can’t do anymore as a club.

“We’ve put a fair bit of time into it andmade Jack a very good offer forwhere we’re atas a club. Hisdecision will come sooner or later, either favourable or unfavourable.”

In terms of Friday’s round 7 NRL clash with the high-flying Sydney Roosters at McDonald Jones Stadium, Brown said the last-placed Knights would once again be up for the challenge despite losing four games by 10 points or less.

“I’d love to see the guys get some reward for their hard work, but wecertainly don’t do big chunks of the game well enoughto be quite honest,” he said.

“We’re far better than what we were at any stage last year as far as competitiveness, especially in the heatof the battle in the early parts of the game. But at some stages we fall away and when we do there’s a little three-four-five minute window where sides jag a couple of tries on us, which makes it hard.”

The Knights’21-man squad named on Tuesday remained unchangedfrom last week’s 22-12 loss to the Bulldogs but Danny Levi returns to starting hooker after a late shift to the bench, Jamie Buhrer moves back to the second-row and Joe Wardle goes to the reserves. Sam Stone has been elevated to the main 17ahead of Luke Yates.

“Sam Stone, whilst only a kid, has certainly been one of our most consistent players, so he’ll definitely come back into the squad,” Brown said.

“The fitness of one or two blokes will probably determine that [the final 17].”

PREVIOUS: Knights name squad to tackle Roosters

Elsewhere in rugby league the NSW Challenge Cup continues at Leichhardt Oval on Wednesday night with Macquarie playing Helensburgh in onesemi-final (8pm) while South Newcastle have been eliminated from the state knockout competition followinga forfeit toConcord Burwood.

“Pulled out due to a lack of fit players,” Souths coach Ben Cross said.

 
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