KNIGHTS coach Nathan Brown says he hopes to sign another “five or six” players before next season kicks off and would potentially be interested in Aaron Woods if he was moved on by Canterbury.
Just half a season into his four-year deal with the Bulldogs, there has been speculation that Woods could be a victim of Canterbury’s salary-cap squeeze.
The Knights have signed premiership-winning Melbourne prop Tim Glasby for next season and made unsuccessful overtures to Jarrod Wallace (Gold Coast) and Leeson Ah Mau (St George Illawarra).
Brown has made no secret of his desire to bolster his engine-room rotation and snaring 27-year-old Woods, a veteran of 14 Origins and 15 Tests, would be a major coup.
“Any time we sign someone, they’ve got to be a fair bit better than what we’ve got,” Brown said on Wednesday. “I think we’d all agree that Aaron Woods is a player who certainly would improve our squad.
“Whether he’s a player who’d be interested, or whether we’re interested, or whether Canterbury would let him go, they’re all questions that need answering.”
Brown said the Knights were “looking to bring another five or six players in” before next season.
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Their two recruits so far are Glasby, a two-game Queensland Origin representative, and young Cronulla centre Jesse Ramien, who scored two tries in last week’s 48-10 win against Newcastle.
“When you lose a few quality players – we did come into the year with a skinny squad – it probably highlights some areas which our recruitment suggests we need to improve in,” Brown said.
“In the middle part of the field and the outside backs are areas that we need to strengthen a little bit.
“We’re putting things in place to hopefully do that, so this time next year we’re in a far stronger situation so that when we lose a couple of forwards and a couple of backs it doesn’t have such an effect on the squad.”
Brown said the Knights “came into this year two or three middles short”, despite signing Herman Ese’ese (Brisbane), Chris Heighington (Cronulla) and Jacob Lillyman (Warriors) at the end of last year.
“Any time there are front-rowers on the market, we’re always discussing that,” Brown said. “We’ve haven’t spoken to Aaron Woods or his manager …
“We’re in a strong position should someone like Woodsy become available and we thought it was a part of the plan and he wanted to come.
“I’m not sure how much truth is in any of it.
“I’m not sure what the story is with Canterbury, or whether he is a movable piece.”
There have been suggestions that the Bulldogs are under so much salary-cap pressure that they may have to offer players, including Woods, partial payouts to move on.
In that scenario, he might be a bargain buy for the next club he joins.
It is a situation with which the Knights are familiar, after paying players like Trent Hodkinson, Akuila Uate, Chris Houston and Tyrone Roberts to ply their trade elsewhere.
“We’ve been on the other end of it for a few years and it’s not the best thing to do, to be paying wages to players who are not at your club,” Brown said.
“Sometimes you’re forced to do it. No one likes to do it, but Canterbury is obviously in a bit of a unique situation at the moment where they’re probably looking to clear some decks and make a few sacrifices to have a good long-term plan in place.”
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