HE is Newcastle’s No.1 recruitment target for the 2017 NRL season.
Now Greg Bird's career again hangs in the balance after he was involved in an alleged incident at a hotel on the weekend.
Bird is under contract to Gold Coast for next year but the Knights have expressed interest in luring the Maitland-born back-rower home.
His future with the Titans now appears tenuous as the NRL integrity unit investigates his behaviour during a buck's weekend celebrations of teammate Anthony Don.
It is alleged Bird was refused entry to the Hotel Brunswick in northern NSW after a fracas with security staff. The NRL integrity unit will speak to hotel staff and seek CCTV footage of the incident as part of its probe into the matter.
"I'm aware of an alleged incident and we're trying to get information as quickly as possible," said Titans CEO Graham Annesley.
Bird took to Instagram on Wednesday morning in response to revelations he was involved in an alleged incident at a hotel on the weekend.
"I would like to put out the actual version of events from the Saturday night at the Brunswick Hotel in mention" the post read.
"I was with a group of people on a bucks party and we all were refused entry. I left the premise and someone from our party stayed and got into a physical altercation with the security.
"Me along with everyone else in the group ran into separate the two involved and no one else threw any punches. There is footage and witnesses to verify this."
The Titans said in a statement they were "aware of an investigation by the NRL Integrity Unit regarding an alleged incident at a hotel in northern NSW last weekend. At this stage those investigations are yet to be completed so the club is not in a position to comment until the outcome has been determined."
Knights coach Nathan Brown has repeatedly stated this season that Bird could be the kind of experienced enforcer capable of helping Newcastle’s young tyros learn how to win.
Asked in June if he was concerned about Bird’s reputation for off-field controversies, Brown replied: “I think Greg’s one of many players that have had some indiscretions but have changed as they’ve matured and married and have had kids … he’s obviously a player that’s a great competitor, he’s been a great player and he was a local junior a long, long time ago.’’
Bird has been involved in a number of career-threatening incidents since making his NRL debut at Cronulla as an 18-year-old.
In 2008, he was de-registered by the NRL and forced to spend a year with Catalans Dragons after being found guilty of glassing his then girlfriend.
He was sentenced to eight months' jail, but the conviction was subsequently quashed by an appeal judge.
Last year he was given a “final warning” by the Titans and stripped of the club captaincy for urinating on a police car during his wedding celebrations, then appeared certain to be sacked after he was charged with supplying cocaine.
The charges were eventually dropped because of a lack of evidence.
On the field, the 31-year-old has also repeatedly found himself in strife with the authorities.
Two suspensions in 2016 for illegalities took him to a career tally of 31 weeks on the sidelines, which makes him the NRL’s most-suspended current player.
Only long-retired John Hopoate (45 weeks) and Luke O’Donnell and Craig Smith (32 weeks each) have more dubious track records as serial offenders.
- with Adrian Proszenko