Aaron Woods of the Wests Tigers.
Aaron Woods of the Wests Tigers. PAUL MILLER

Woods signs: next dominoes in Dogs, Tigers shuffle

AARON Woods has signed with Canterbury on a four-year deal from 2018, with the papers lodged after weeks of speculation.

The $3.2 million move to the Bulldogs confirms what has been known for some time at Concord and Belmore.

The blue and whites are getting an Origin and Test regular while the Tigers lose a favourite son and the man single-handedly propping up their ailing pack for the past five years.

But beyond the cold, hard dollars and facts, a raft of questions remain for both clubs.

First and foremost, what does Woods' exit mean for the Tigers?

We know Robbie Farah's departure from Concord was met with anger from the fans and you can expect the same reaction from the black and orange faithful.

From a roster perspective, Ivan Cleary's already signed his replacement in Warriors prop Ben Matulino.

The former Kiwi international has signed a three-year-deal at a much cheaper rate than what the Dogs have outlaid for Woods.

The Tigers have also expressed interest in Russell Packer.

Up front the club still has Joel Edwards, Tim Grant, Kyle Lovett and Ava Seumanufagai off-contract.

Seumanufagai is no certainty to stay with several clubs showing interest in the Kiwi product.

Woods' arrival also means someone will likely have to make way at Belmore. That's the nature of the salary cap.

It's been speculated that the skipper, James Graham, could be the man pushed out but the club has shot down that talk on multiple occasions. On a deal reportedly worth $700,000 a season, the prop is on the kind of coin that would help accommodate Woods. But while Graham is well paid, he's the leader and a locker room favourite.

The other veteran in the pack is Aiden Tolman. The 28-year-old recently extended his deal out until the end of 2020 and has been linked with Newcastle in recent weeks.

The Knights were previously linked with Graham after declaring they'd be interested in speaking to any experienced players who became available due to salary cap pressures at their respective clubs.

"Because where we are financially in the cap situation - probably a lot better off than most clubs at the moment - every player's going to be linked to us," Knights coach Nathan Brown said.

"Canterbury's obviously got a situation where everyone agrees they've got to shed some players.

"From my understanding, James Graham is a much more favoured player of Desie's and he's not on the list of players they want to go. Whether that changes, I'm not too sure."

You can take it to the bank David Klemmer isn't going anywhere. The Test and Origin enforcer is close friends with Woods and a major draw card in the club getting Woods to switch teams. Signed until the end of 2020, Klemmer's best footy is still ahead of him.

The other well-paid players left on the Dogs' list are Greg Eastwood and Sam Kasiano.

Both are signed until the end of 2018 but it's understood they are willing to explore their options.

Eastwood is 30 this year and wouldn't oppose the idea of pushing his career out a couple more seasons, while Kasiano is 26 and starting off the bench.

It's understood Kasiano's goal is to become an NRL starter, which is unlikely to happen at the Dogs.

The Dogs recruitment staff will now also be working on getting Kieran Foran to Belmore.

The shift of Josh Reynolds to the Tigers has paved the way for Foran to reunite with Hasler next season.

But is the No.6 the only other signing to be made?

Will Hopoate, Adam Elliott, Craig Garvey, Kerrod Holland, Michael Lichaa, Tyrone Phillips and Chase Stanley are all still off-contract.

While Hopoate started the season at fullback, an injury to the former Manly premiership winner and indifferent form from rookie Brad Abbey paved the way for Brett Morris to fill the void in the No.1.

Morris came to the club with the intention to fill that role before injury stalled his time there. With Morris and his brother Josh well paid, coach Hasler could be forced to keep Brett in that spot next season rather than recruit another fullback.

The hooking role is another major talking point.

Moses Mbye has shared the role with Lichaa in recent weeks with limited game time not doing the off-contract No.9 any favours.

"I want to be playing the full game but I guess someone's got to come off and I've got to change position," Lichaa said of the current bench rotation at the club.

News Corp Australia


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