JACK AT THE BACK | Bird’s fullback quest

JACK AT THE BACK | Bird's fullback quest

This NRL off-season, it seemed there were two questions at the front of everyone’s mind, heading into the new campaign.

One: Would Jack Bird re-sign with the Sharks, and

Two: Just where would he fit into Coach Flanagan’s plans?

Having put pen to paper with the Sharks in January – a move which will see the heavily touted youngster remain at the Club until the end of 2017 – attentions quickly turned to what jersey Bird would don in 2016.

And following much conjecture, Bird gets his chance in the Sharks fullback role, having vacated his prized ‘6’ jersey in place of in-coming five-eighth, James Maloney.

Coach Shane Flanagan told Sharks TV on Friday that he holds no doubts over the 2015 Rookie of the Year’s capabilities at the back, despite having not played first grade there to date.

"(But) I know what he’s got, he’s a talented ball running player," Flanagan said.

"He can play 6, 13, 1 … he can play in the centres, he’s just a ‘footy player’. We just need to make sure that he develops.

"There’s a lot of things that go into that fullback role. Organising our defensive structures, obviously kick returns, it’s a big job. 

"Im sure Birdy can do it, but he’s got a few blokes there who are going to challenge him, who are going to keep him on his toes as well."

One of those ‘blokes’ is fellow boom youngster Valentine Holmes who, despite suggestions he would fill the ‘1’ jersey, will start on his familiar right flank.

"At different stages Val will play there (at fullback) as well, if Birdy needs a bit of a spell," Flanagan said.

"We’ll put Birdy in to right centre. Bealey (Gerard Beale) or Kurt Capewell wish push out onto the wing."

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