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Jack Bird has apologised to St George Illawarra fans for his comments at a press conference on Wednesday, saying he didn’t mean to disparage them while trying to support embattled coach Anthony Griffin.
The Dragons face a sixth-straight defeat if they fail to upset the Cowboys in Townsville on Saturday, prompting speculation it could be Griffin’s last game in charge. Speaking in Queensland, Bird conceded he was “flustered” and misspoke when addressing reporters at the Royal Pines Resort in Benowa.
“Fans don’t really know too much about footy I don’t think. They’ve got a lot to say about people on the field,” Bird said on Wednesday.
“I don’t think they have ever played a game of footy. I am just speaking from first-hand stuff that I have been copping. I feel sorry for Hook [Griffin]. It is us [players] out there playing, so we should be the ones [fans] are baying for.”
Bird said that, in trying to defend Griffin, he didn’t correctly express himself and inadvertently criticised one of the NRL’s most passionate supporter bases.
The former Blues star contacted this masthead later on Wednesday to clarify his comments.
Jack Bird has apologised to Dragons fans.Credit: Getty
“I want to say sorry to the fans for upsetting them,” Bird said. “In no way, shape or form did I mean to make comments coming at the fans personally, I was just trying to stick up for my coach.
“What I said is not what I meant, I just wanted to clarify it. It came out the wrong way, I got tripped up a bit in the way I expressed myself, I didn’t mean it in that way.
“I just want to clear everything up. Hook is not just my coach, he’s my friend as well.
“When you have a coach, you always try to back them, no matter what. He’s obviously under a lot of pressure and I don’t want to dog my own coach or see other people talk shit about him. I was just sticking up for him.
“I’m fine with stuff coming my way. But people don’t understand that with Hook going through a rough patch with football, he may be struggling with stuff outside of footy as well. That can push somebody over the edge.
“It wasn’t that fans don’t know what they are talking about, it was that they may not know what’s going on behind the scenes in someone’s personal life.”
Bird, who confirmed he is committed to honouring his Dragons contract, said long-suffering Red V followers have every right to be frustrated by the team’s results.
“I love the fans, they are a part of the game and that’s why I play it,” he said.
‘Without the fans, there is no game.’
“They pay their hard-earned money to come to the games. In no way, shape or form am I attacking them personally because I respect the fans and everything they do for the game. Without the fans, there is no game.
“I was just trying to stick up for my coach and protect him in that way. It just got out of hand. I didn’t really know how to answer that question, it kind of got sprung on me and I answered it the wrong way.
“I should have left the fans out of it, but I got a bit flustered with it all and said the wrong thing.
“If they want to boo me, they can boo me. I was just trying to stick up for my coach.
“After I made the comments I instantly felt bad. I said to myself, ‘I shouldn’t have said that stuff, because it’s not what I meant’.
“I knew straight away it would get taken the wrong way. I can understand they are frustrated, they want to win games and so do I.”
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