SHARKS coach Shane Flanagan says he was 'terribly disappointed' Jack Bird has decided to walk away from the club that developed him into a premiership winner and Origin player.
On Thursday morning, Bird made the decision that he will move to Queensland and join the Brisbane Broncos on a three-year deal worth $2.1m.
The Broncos contract offer is believed to be worth $350,000 more over three seasons, than what the Sharks were offering.
Bird, who won last year's premiership at centre, made the decision before training this morning after also weighing up a multi-million dollar offer from the Newcastle Knights.
However, the 22-year-old advised his management to inform Knights officials that he would be declining their offer to join the Broncos.
"I am terribly disappointed that Jack has decided to move on,” Flanagan said.
"He made his NRL debut at our club, was the NRL rookie of the year, made his debut for Origin and won a premiership all within the space of just over two years.
"Since debuting for us in 2015, our club has played a major role in developing Jack into a State of Origin level player which is a testament to the talent identification and player development systems we have in place”.
But Flanagan is confident Bird's main focus this year will be Cronulla's premiership defence.
"He is a professional and we have no doubt he will continue to give his full focus to his club and his teammates on and off the field and play a major role throughout 2017,” he said.
Bringing the prolonged contract negotiations to an end, Bird has been adamant that the lure of playing five-eighth at the Broncos would be a major factor in his decision.
How Bird adjusts to playing five-eighth alongside unorthodox Broncos halfback Anthony Milford is considered a major gamble by some experts and will become a major talking point ahead of the 2018 season.
The premiers were preparing for the NSW Origin utility's departure and have drawn-up a hit list of targets for which they will now use the salary cap money they had reserved for Bird to sign a marquee outside back.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.