WAYNE Bennett says there is “no doubt” Cronulla’s NSW State of Origin star Jack Bird will play for Brisbane in the NRL next year.
Bennett has dismissed reports that claim Bird had been close to reneging on his lucrative four-year deal, which commences in 2018, ahead of the Broncos’ blockbuster Friday night clash with the Sharks.
Bennett said he felt obligated to “step in” and slam a weekend report that suggested Bird would backflip on his reported $ 3.5 million Broncos deal and remain with the defending premiers.
“I did step in. But we have had no doubt at this club (that Bird is coming to the club),” Bennett said.
“It’s just rumour and innuendo.
“Anything to do with the Broncos it gets a bigger headline than anything else.
“It just comes with the territory unfortunately.
“Jack Bird is coming to the Broncos — full stop.”
Sharks centre Bird will miss the match with his future club after being sidelined with a shoulder injury.
But Bennett expects Cronulla, who will welcome back playmaker James Maloney, to lift for Paul Gallen’s 300th game.
“I have always admired him. He’s tough and uncompromising,” Bennett said of Gallen.
“He’s made plenty of enemies and friends along the way; that’s what a good forward is all about.
“I am sure they will lift for him.”
Bennett said he would stick with his game plan that helped spark last round’s 54-0 win over the Gold Coast Titans.
Sam Thaiday will again start at hooker with last round hat-trick tryscoring hero Ben Hunt coming off the bench after 20 minutes.
“My concern at the moment is backing up what we did last week, it’s always an issue,” Bennett said.
“They may be more complacent about their positions.
“I hope not, it is a big game tomorrow.”
Third-placed Brisbane will have a top four season finish on the line against fourth-placed Cronulla, who have won their past three games at Suncorp Stadium.