7 May 2015

Bird suspended for eight games

12:37 pm on 7 May 2015

The Australian rugby league enforcer Greg Bird will miss the entire State of Origin series after copping an eight-game ban at the NRL judiciary.

The Titans forward Greg Bird.

The Titans forward Greg Bird. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

After deliberating for just nine minutes the panel upheld Bird's grade two dangerous throw charge for his tackle on the Kiwis winger Jason Nightingale during the Kangaroos' Test loss last Sunday.

Bird had pleaded guilty to a dangerous throw, but had sought a downgrade from a grade one to a grade two charge.

The judiciary prosecutor Peter McGrath successfully argued that the danger, or the potential of danger, was what made the grading appropriate.

The New South Wales forward will not be available until the Gold Coast's round 19 fixture against Newcastle.

Bird declined to comment after the verdict was handed out. Instead Titans coach Neil Henry made a brief statement to waiting media.

"Obviously we are very disappointed in the outcome."

"We thought we made a strong case for a downgrade - grade two to grade one - and we thought we had evidence to prove that. Unfortunately that wasn't the case with the judiciary."

"As a club we are very disappointed to lose the services of Greg for an extended period of time."

Bird's defence counsel Jim Hall unsuccessfully argued that Australian back-rower Corey Parker held the greater responsibility for Nightingale ending up in a dangerous position.

"There was low force from player Bird (but) the force from player Parker was high or moderate," Hall said.

"The three players (including Australian winger Alex Johnston) played a part in the tackle going wrong.

"Player Parker took control of the tackle and pulled the player down."

Through numerous angles of the tackle McGrath said that Bird had "re-gripped" or made a "second effort" in tackling Nightingale and then lifting the St George Illawarra star into a dangerous position.

In giving evidence Bird conceded it was "an awkward tackle" but said: "I'm suggesting it wasn't a lifting movement, I wasn't in control".

Trent Merrin shapes as the most likely replacement for Bird in NSW's back-row with Boyd Cordner, Ryan James and Josh Jackson among the other possibilities.

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