Confident: Jack Bird made his Origin debut in 2016. Photo: Matt Roberts Hungry Shark: Valentine Holmes wants to break club legend David Peachey’s try-scoring record. Photo: Getty Images
Cronulla chief executive Lyall Gorman has issued a hands-off warning to suitors of their hottest prospects in Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes, claiming the star duo will not be driven solely by money when signing their next deals.
The Sharks will waste no time in trying to lock down two of the NRL’s brightest young stars, with Holmes and Bird, both 21, expected to be asked to the negotiating table within days of the club’s historic grand final appearance on Sunday.
They are off contract at the end of next year and despite the uncertainty about the salary cap when the new broadcast rights deal begins in 2018, Gorman and coach Shane Flanagan have stressed discussions will take place with their lethal right-edge pair within days of the clash against the Storm.
Flanagan has told the club to halt all negotiations during the past fortnight – notwithstanding the club inking skipper Paul Gallen to a one-year deal for 2017 which was considered a fait accompli – to allow his squad to concentrate on winning the Sharks’ maiden premiership.
But Gorman stressed the re-signings of Bird and Holmes on long-term deals were a priority, hence the club’s desire to start the ball rolling in the shadows of the grand final.
“Their commitment is very clear – they both want to stay here,” Gorman said. “They’re great boys, they’ve got a great future and we’ll be doing everything we can to work with them to secure their long-term future at the club.
“Money won’t be their only driver. They’re in a happy club where they’re growing and there’s a holistic approach. We’ve got a mantra here that we develop footballers and grow people.
“How do we help grow their career for the next 10 or 15 years? We need to secure their whole life plan, not just their next five or 10 years in footy.”
Holmes, who can break David Peachey’s long-standing club record of 19 tries in a single season if he can touch down against the Storm, has been courted by several NRL rivals as well as sounded out about a code switch to rugby union.
But he has just invested in an apartment in Sharks’ development adjacent to Southern Cross Group Stadium and is being groomed as the club’s long-term No.1.
Bird debuted at State of Origin level for NSW this year and mulled a switch back to his junior club St George Illawarra before signing an extension at the end of last year.
He is expected to revert to five-eighth in the long term, the position where he won the Dally M Rookie of the Year from during a sensational 2015 season.
“We’ve got a no clouds principle in our club – we need clear heads,” Gorman said. “We’ve got a plan in place and we’re not going to disrupt them with negotiations or anything this week.
“Post grand final and post the week after hopefully there’s a few hangovers for a few days and we’ll be fully supportive of those. We’ll sit down and have a chat to them then. We know they’re both incredibly content at the club.
“You see where Val is in terms of try-scoring, you see where Jack is in terms of State of Origin … we both know they want to be long-term part of our plans.”
Off-contract forward Sam Tagataese is another whose future has been delayed with Flanagan’s single-minded premiership focus.
The prop has been an integral part of the Sharks’ premiership assault and is vying for selection in Flanagan’s grand final side after missing close to two months with a shoulder injury. This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.