Greg Bird was a lot closer to joining the Newcastle Knights than anyone realises.
“It wasn’t far off being done really,” Bird revealed to the Our Town Our Team podcast
“We were heckling over a few figures but I’m pretty sure it was next to getting done and right at the end I made a phone call to the CEO in France and they put the big deal on the table.”
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A Maitland product and Knights junior, Bird was part of the Hunter Academy, Harold Matthews and SG Ball system.
His junior career was glittered with success.
Playing alongside the likes of Michael Ennis, Brad Tighe and Riley Brown, who all went on to play first grade for the Club, his under 16s and 18s teams took out the competition.
While he was a promising player, the Knights were reluctant to offer him a Top 25 roster spot straight out of school.
Cronulla did and Bird made the move to Sydney.
“It was a funny one, back then we played the SG Ball season and moved into Jersey Flegg. I actually played left centre. We were one game off the grand final that year,” he said.
“I finished High School and was approached by Chris Anderson, who was the Australia coach at the time, I was pretty excited about that. He offered me a contract.
“I came here (to the Knights). I asked if I could have some sort of contract similar to the one I was offered in Cronulla because I wanted to stay but they had their views of me coming through the under 20s system, and told me to pump my breaks.
“I went down there and the rest is history.”
After stints with the Sharks, Catalans Dragons and Gold Coast, Bird was on the hunt for a new club.
It was 2016 and despite having a year to run on his Gold Coast deal, both parties were comfortable with him securing his future elsewhere.
Manly had shown some interest but the Knights were working on a two-year-deal.
That was before the French Super League outfit Catalans swooped in.
“I spoke to Matt Gidley. I met with him,” Bird said.
“I was trying to get a two-year-deal and come down here and play.
“I got offered the gig over in France for five-years, three years playing (and) two years coaching and it gave me an outlet to transition from a player to a coach and took that pressure that players get once they finish of not knowing what they’re going to do.
“I’m three years into it now.”