Jack Bird leaves on medi-cab as Bulldogs slay Dragons

Jasper Bruce |

Jack Bird is left on the playing surface in agony after his ankle injury against the Dragons.
Jack Bird is left on the playing surface in agony after his ankle injury against the Dragons.

An agonising ankle injury has forced St George Illawarra centre Jack Bird off the field on a medi-cab and opened the door for Canterbury’s 44-12 thrashing of the Dragons.

Injury-plagued Bird had his left foot crushed as he attempted a tackle on Bronson Xerri just before halftime at Accor Stadium on Thursday night.

Bird dragged himself from the field of play and began slamming his fist into the turf in severe pain, prompting staffers to rush over.

The former State of Origin representative was moved to a stretcher and then hoisted onto a medi-cab, with early indications he had suffered a syndesmosis injury.

“He’s going to have X-rays on his lower leg. We’ll just have to wait and see (about his prognosis),” said Dragons coach Shane Flanagan.

Zac Lomax attends to Jack Bird.
Zac Lomax tries to console his injured Dragons teammate Jack Bird. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

The Red V had already lost prop Hame Sele to a right-shoulder injury during the first half and capitulated once reduced to 15 men in their rotation.

In a 14-minute period just after halftime, Saints leaked four tries, all of which came down their left side where forward Tom Eisenhuth was moonlighting in the centres.

The skirmish swallowed up the visitors’ 12-6 lead and began a 38-point second half that emphatically sealed the Bulldogs’ fifth win of the year.

On the back of consecutive defeats, Cameron Ciraldo rated the second half as the Bulldogs’ best 40 minutes of the season.

“We’ve been building to that. We had a couple of tough losses but in those losses we were doing a lot of things right,” the coach said.

“The second half sort of clicked for us there.”

A sardonic Flanagan reminisced that he had not been in the Accor Stadium press conference room since winning the 2016 grand final as coach of Cronulla.

“Last time I was in this room, I won a comp. How things have changed,” he said.

“(The loss was) so bad, you’ve got to try and laugh about it.

“When you lose a centre, it is hard, that’s probably where their strike is, out on the edges.

“But that’s football, you’ve just got to be able to handle it.”

Jaeman Salmon returned from a staph infection and bagged the first two of Canterbury’s seven second-half tries, with winger Jacob Kiraz also heavily involved as the Dogs toyed with their rivals from long range.

Matt Burton.
Matt Burton dives over for one of Canterbury’s eight tries against the Dragons. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Matt Burton recovered from a middling night at Magic Round and resumed his State of Origin push with a try-scoring double.

Midway through the first half, the five-eighth had the Bulldogs’ first four-pointer by chasing a grubber kick from Toby Sexton, who replaced Drew Hutchison in the halves on game day.

Burton claimed another while Dragons winger Zac Lomax was in the sin bin for a professional foul, putting on a one-two with Xerri to blow the lead out further.

With 10 minutes remaining, fellow NSW hopeful Stephen Crichton added his own name to the scoresheet in the Bulldogs’ last game before Origin teams are named on Sunday.

New recruit Christian Tuipulotu appears the likeliest man to come into the Dragons’ 17 for the coming weeks as Bird faces a stint in the casualty ward.