Bennett backs Bird to stick with Broncos
WAYNE Bennett has denied star recruit Jack Bird wants to quit the Broncos despite Brisbane players admitting their $3 million teammate is not happy.
Bird's debut season at the Broncos has been one to forget and he is expected to miss the remainder of the year as he continues his rehabilitation from sternum surgery.
The NSW Origin star arrived at Red Hill this season on a four-year contract worth in excess of $750,000-a-year, making him one of Brisbane's highest paid players.
However, Bird has been restricted to just eight appearances after a shoulder reconstruction delayed his Broncos debut before the sternum problem forced him to undergo surgery.
Bird's plight has prompted speculation the 23-year-old utility wants to return to Cronulla, where he played a key role in the Sharks' historic 2016 NRL premiership.
While admitting Bird was frustrated, coach Bennett said he was committed to helping Bird bounce back to his best at the Broncos.
"There is no fun for him," Bennett said.
"He's been through the worst, it's all upside for him, but probably not until next year.
"It was nobody's fault, it's one of those things. Now it's sorted and the recovery has taken a bit longer than we all thought it would.
"He just can't play football. It's not his fault or the club's fault. It's the business we're in.
"It's a tough time for him. They are young men and want to play football. He is away from family and his close mates. That is the reality of the situation but it is what it is.
"Whingeing is not going to change anything. The bottom line is to get on with life. We want Jack at the club and he knows that and I'm sure Jack wants to be there."
Bird has been training with the full squad in recent weeks, but is restricted when it comes to contact sessions due to the tender sternum situation.
He has not played since Round 10 and with Brisbane having as few as three games remaining this year, Bird may have to wait until 2019 to pull on a Broncos jersey again.
Broncos prop Matt Lodge admitted Bird was struggling to deal with being sidelined, but urged his teammate to remain committed to Brisbane.
"It's hard for anybody to be happy when they have missed the whole year," Lodge said.
"I've been in that position a few years ago. It's hard to enjoy being around a footy club when you can't get on the field.
"He is probably feeling that, but it turns when you start playing and get some performances together.
"Broncos fans should get behind him and encourage him because he could help this club to a (premiership).
"We know the player Birdy is. He was a massive part of Cronulla winning the competition and that's why he's here.
"He is quality when he's on and you need those quality players to win comps. Birdy at full flight is someone we want to have on the field."
Bird will undergo further scans on his sternum next week to determine whether he could make an unlikely appearance in the finals.