Bulldogs prop Aaron Woods is prepared for the fact he might follow Moses Mbye out the back door at Belmore to relieve Canterbury's salary cap squeeze, less than 12 months into a rich four-year deal with the club.
Just over a week after Mbye was granted an early release to take up a lucrative contract with Wests Tigers from next year, a candid Woods has conceded his days as a Dog might also be numbered.
Preparing for the worst: Aaron Woods.
The former Australian and NSW front-rower has attracted interest from the Sharks and been linked to several other NSW-based clubs, but he stresses his priority is to remain at Canterbury as he prepares to take on St George Illawarra's State of Origin-calibre pack on Monday.
Woods, however, is also resigned to the fact he might not have a choice in the matter.
Asked about the constant speculation linking him with other clubs, Woods told Sky Sports Radio: "It sucks. The people here at the club are unreal. I've really enjoyed my time but sometimes things do happen in rugby league and they're out of your control.
"If [my future is] meant to be here, I'll love it and I'll stay. But if I have to move on it's just part of life. There's no point holding grudges. I just want to stay but the realisation is I could not be here and I've got to get my head around it."
It's the first admission from the 27-year-old, whose big-money switch from the Tigers to the Bulldogs this season hasn't reaped immediate rewards, that he's aware his stint at Canterbury might not last a season.
I just want to stay but the realisation is I could not be here and I've got to get my head around it
The Bulldogs could shed Woods before June 30 and free up salary cap space before the end of the season but are desperate to juggle their total player payment pool for 2019 and beyond in order to rebuild their squad.
The more likely scenario is Woods finds a new home for the start of next season.
"Each day I find out something [new] from my mates … I'm going to a different club," Woods said. "I'll talk to my manager over the weekend but at the moment I want to be here.
"It's a great club, the Bulldogs, and I've really enjoyed my time here. I want to stay but sometimes things can happen and rugby league is a funny game."
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan on Friday was coy on the 2016 premiers trying to bolster their pack with the addition of Woods, a situation which would allow Matt Prior to revert to the back row from next year.
"I haven't sounded him out," Flanagan said before Cronulla's clash with Woods' old club the Tigers on Sunday. "We're interested in getting good players to our club but we won't be playing it out in the media."
Flanagan quipped, with tongue firmly in cheek, Woods was likely to end up at the Roosters. But that received short shrift from tri-colours coach Trent Robinson hours later.
"It's not true at all," Robinson said. "It's something we don't usually talk about. But when it's talk about our forwards, it's ridiculous, there's no interest at all."
No interest: Trent Robinson.
Woods does have an interest in barging down the Origin selection door either later this series or next year after being overlooked for NSW selection in the Blues' 22-12 game-one win at the MCG.
"I'd be lying to say I was happy not being picked," Woods said. "You want to be there. It's one of the pinnacles of the game, playing State of Origin. To miss out … yes, you do get a bit filthy.
"But it's how you react and it burns you more when you want to come back to training. You've got that fire and you want to keep ripping in. You want to make them talk about your name again and bring your name back in the selection frame."
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