Bird pins comeback hopes on captaincy

FORMER Australian schoolboys star Greg Bird will be aiming to put two nightmare seasons behind him when he launches his rugby league comeback with the Cronulla Sharks in Rockhampton this weekend.

Bird was yesterday named captain of the Cronulla side to play the Central Queensland Comets in Saturday night's final Minniecon and Burke Pre-Season Challenge match at Rockhampton's Browne Park.

Bird, 22, is on the injury comeback trail after missing the entire second half of last year's NRL with a foot injury.

In 2004, the classy five-eighth/lock also spent time on the sidelines when he received a 10match suspension for kneeing.

Bird, who will line-up at lock against the Comets, is keen to cement an NRL start this season, along with former Junior Kiwi star James Stosic.

Stosic made his NRL debut for the Sharks in 2005 and will be out to further push his selection claims this weekend.

Clifford Manua is another Shark ready to sink his teeth into the Comets.

The 120kg prop made an impact when used in the top-grade at the end of last season, including the Sharks' NRL semi-final loss to St George-Illawarra.

Former North Sydney Bears forward Craig Wilson, now Cronulla's Premier League coach, will coach the Sharks in Rockhampton.

Cronulla also take on the Bulldogs in an NRL trial at Mollymook on Saturday night.

Comets coach Matt Parish will announce a full-strength 18-man squad today.

Tickets for the match are on sale at Stockland Rockhampton.

Cronulla ? 1 Mitch Brown, 2 Karl Fritz, 3 Brett Kelly, 4 Travis Robinson, 5 Dane Nielsen, 6 Bracken Henry, 7 Ryan Borg, 8 James Stosic, 9 Nick Doig, 10 Jacob Selmes, 11 Luke Harlen, 12 Rhys Lovegrove, 13 Greg Bird. Interchange: 14 Clifford Manua, 15 Jeremy Latimore, 16 Brodea Sanders, 17 Tony Caine, 18 Jardine Bobongie, 19 Kurt Puohotaua, 20 Dayne Weston. Coach: Craig Wilson.

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