Under-fire Bronco eyes shock injury comeback
JACK Bird is eyeing a shock finals comeback with scans today to determine whether the Broncos will gamble on their under-fire $800,000 recruit in a desperate bid to reignite their season.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Bird is sweating on a medical clearance to return to the training paddock in the lead-up to Thursday night's blockbuster against South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium.
Bird has been derided as the big-money flop of the season but he is in good spirits following sternum surgery, being pain-free for the first time in almost a year.
Broncos high-performance chief Jeremy Hickmans indicated Bird's return on the eve of the playoffs is a possibility, but said results of scans on Monday would ultimately determine his fate.
The Broncos crashed to eighth following their Queensland derby loss to the Cowboys and need all hands on deck to stay in the finals race against the rampaging Rabbitohs.
Bird was expected to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery in June on a sternum problem that plagued him for nine months dating back to his stint at former club Cronulla.
But the marquee recruit has recovered well from the operation and is hoping to get the green light to return this season. The former NSW Origin utility could resume training this week with a view to being considered for selection for Brisbane's Round 24 clash against the Roosters on Saturday week.
Bird has had a horror maiden year at Red Hill, with his eight games for the Broncos book ended by two operations, including a shoulder reconstruction last November.
But with the Broncos reeling from back-to-back losses to the lowly Bulldogs and North Queensland, they are craving the type of matchwinning brilliance Bird provided in his 2016 premiership season at the Sharks.
Bird will consult Broncos medicos in the coming days to assess whether he would not be risking fresh damage by returning in time for the playoffs.
The 23-year-old is one of just three Broncos who boast premiership rings - the others are Sam Thaiday and Darius Boyd - and his big-game experience could be handy if Brisbane qualify for the finals.
Broncos winger Corey Oates said recently Brisbane teammates had rallied around Bird amid speculation he would seek a release to return to Sydney.
"It has been a really tough time for Jack," Oates said.
"Jack is a good fella and a real larrikin. There's no issue with the boys, he's fitted in well here, it's just the injuries that are affecting him.
"He's been getting hammered for his form, but in fairness Jack didn't get to train with us in pre-season. The pressure has built up for him and that hasn't helped."