Sharks blast Bennett over false Bird claim

Tensions between Cronulla and Brisbane have reached boiling point after the Sharks responded to Wayne Bennett's "false and misleading" criticism of their handling of Jack Bird.

 

A livid Bennett pointed the finger of blame at the Sharks after $3.5 million signing Bird was told to undergo a shoulder reconstruction by Broncos medical staff on Thursday, putting him in serious doubt for March's NRL season opener.

Bennett accused Cronulla of not passing on any medical information and claimed the Sharks told Brisbane that Bird's 2017 end of season scan results indicated he did not require an operation for his chronic shoulder problem.

Cronulla returned serve on Saturday, saying they kept Brisbane in the loop over Bird, player welfare was their priority and they were adamant the NSW State of Origin star would not have gone under the knife if he had remained with the club.

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Bird is set to undergo surgery. Pic: Getty

"The comments made with regards to the Sharks sweeping a player's injury under the carpet are misleading and false," the Sharks statement read.

"Following the Sharks elimination from the final series, Jack underwent the standard exit medical assessment with Sharks medical staff on September 14.

"... Based on this assessment, if Jack was remaining at the Sharks for the 2018 season, he would not be having reconstructive surgery.

"The exit medical screening and shoulder scan results were sent to Brisbane Broncos medical staff on October 6."

Bird aggravated his shoulder complaint in round 22 and Cronulla made a "collective" decision to opt against surgery.

Cronulla claimed the next week, when they travelled to Brisbane with their star sidelined, they still shared Bird's medical findings with the Broncos.

"When in Brisbane, Sharks medical staff discussed Jack's scan findings, in person, with the Brisbane Broncos medical staff," the statement read.

"They have been aware of the details of the injury since that time."

Bird returned for the Sharks' first week of finals and played in the World Cup selection trial, the Prime Minister's XIII clash in Papua New Guinea.

"As Jack competed we assume that the Australian medical staff deemed Jack fit to play," the Sharks said.

"The statement that the Brisbane Broncos have lost time with Jack as a direct result of the medical processes carried out by the Sharks has no basis in fact."

The stage is already set for a fiery round 15 Cronulla-Brisbane clash at Shark Park next year.

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