The week that was... A wrap of the news from around the National Rugby League traps over the last seven days.
The NRL week kicked off with news that Greg Bird and the Cronulla Sharks saga was finally over with the two parties agreeing to go their separate ways.
Bird's release opened the door to England and it wasn't long before the Bradford Bulls had him signed on the dotted line. Bird may have a few more hurdles ahead with his impending court case in April where he'll defend the charge of assaulting his girlfriend Kate Milligan who was allegedly glassed in the face last August. Bradford have agreed to allow Bird to travel back to Sydney to face court.
Meanwhile, Parramatta Eels front rower Fuifui Moimoi found himself in hot water after returning 10 days late from a holiday in Tonga. Parramatta officials launched an investigation to find out why their star prop didn't front up training. Moimoi claimed that he was delayed by bad weather in Tonga, but faced a possible sacking if it was found his delay was avoidable. The Eels later released a statement: "an appropriate course of action would follow later this week". On Wednesday Moimoi was fined a reported $5,000 by the club, and avoided any further action.
In signing news, Warriors halfback Nathan Fein will remain with the New Zealand club in 2009, ending speculation that the former Cowboys playmaker was moving to Huddersfield.
At the other of the scale, the salary cap has Melbourne Storm to find new homes for two more players with prop Scott Anderson and winger Steve Turner being offered releases. In 2007, the Storm fought hard to keep Turner after he expressed a desire to live in Melbourne with his girlfriend despite agreeing to terms with the Gold Coast Titans.
Meanwhile, the South Sydney Rabbitohs have released 29-year-old Shannon Hegarty from the final year of his contract. The Rabbitohs say they reached an amicable agreement with the former Australian and Queensland representative player. Hegarty has since signed with the North Queensland Cowboys.
Also reported was the signing of former Roosters and Dragons back Amos Roberts to Wigan after the Roosters released the winger during the week.
In comeback news, former Test centre Michael De Vere has come out of a two-year retirement to re-join the Brisbane Broncos. A veteran of 170 first grade games, and a former Test and Origin centre, De Vere has not played in the NRL for four years. The 32-year-old's recall coincides with news that the Broncos are still working with centre Justin Hodges and his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery. Hodges is officially due to return from his leave of absence on Monday.
More on the injury front, Canterbury Bulldogs are reeling after news that prop Jarrad Hickey will be sideline for the first half of the season. Hickey will go have back surgery this week to repair a bulging disc which has caused chronic pain and numbness down his leg.
In other news, it has been reported that World Cup referee Ashley Klein is heading back to his native Australia. In what will no doubt be sobering news for former Kangaroos and current Sharks coach Ricky Stuart, Klein has resigned from his position with England's Rugby Football League to rejoin his wife and two children in Australia where he is now set to referee NRL matches.
In news on the field, the NRL season unofficially kicked off last night with the first trial of the year in Queanbeyan, the Canberra Raiders defeating the Cronulla Sharks 32-12.
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