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Brisbane are ready to pounce with a massive offer for Cronulla star Jack Bird but Sharks coach Shane Flanagan insists the premiers can retain him.
Bird has been strongly courted by Newcastle and Parramatta in recent weeks, but the Broncos have emerged as shock favourites to secure the NSW State of Origin star's signature.
It's understood the Broncos have offered Bird $3.6 million deal over three years with the added lure of playing at five-eighth in 2018.
Brisbane are desperate to find a replacement for Dragons-bound Ben Hunt and are poised to entice Bird to partner Anthony Milford in the halves next season before a longer-term switch to fullback.
The deal is stronger than the one offered by battling Newcastle - believed to be $1 million a season - while Parramatta pulled out of the race this week.
While speculation is rife Bird has all but made up his mind to move north, Flanagan was confident the Sharks' efforts to retain him would be rewarded.
"It's progressing well - we'd like to think it's resolved by next week," Flanagan said on departure for his team's Sunday grand final re-match with Melbourne.
"We would like to think that Jack is going to stay at our club.
"He's won rookie of the year and won a grand final and played Origin all from here. So there's only blue sky for him if he stays at the club."
Flanagan has driven the negotiations with the 22-year-old, whose contract expires within the same two years as those of all their remaining premiership-winning stars.
The Sharks have already re-signed captain-in-waiting Wade Graham, prop Matt Prior, winger Sosaia Feki and fullback Valentine Holmes - however it's believed the latter would have come at a big cost.
Some cap space for 2018 could be freed however if veterans Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis opt to retire, while Ben Barba also left the club over the off-season.
Bird is keen to move to a spine - halves or fullback - position to advance his NRL career, and halfback Chad Townsend is also off-contract this season.
Meanwhile Flanagan hasn't ruled out having Josh Reynolds at the club next season, if he can't agree to terms with Canterbury.
Reynolds and Flanagan are close and have known each other since the five-eighth's junior days.
"Josh doesn't know if he's leaving the Bulldogs yet. So if Josh leaves the Bulldogs I will have a chat to him.
"He's a quality player, he's a competitor and we like those kinds of players at our club."