Why Woods turned back on Manly
Aaron Woods works in what is essentially a Parity League, where the salary cap reigns supreme and equal talent distribution is the selling point for each one of the NRL clubs' memberships.
But, like most things in life, there are obvious flaws in the design.
Take for example the team that has played in four of the past seven grand finals, and has done so on the back of a playing squad that's survived a heap of adversity and scrutiny. If nothing else, Manly's band of long-serving teammates proves that loyalty still has a place in the game.
So when the Sea Eagles threw more than half a million dollars at Aaron Woods and he balked, there had to be a significant reason.
"We've got a lot of young kids coming through and last couple of years the under-20s have been up there," he said on Monday.
Oh, right. Those kids. It seems you can't walk 100 metres through Leichhardt or Campbelltown these days without someone knowing something about some kid who just graduated from high school and is destined for big things in the black and gold.
We kid you not - not even One Direction has attracted as much anticipation as this crop of teenagers. In case you haven't heard, Luke Brooks is the new Andrew Johns. All of which makes Tigers boss Grant Mayer a lottery winner.
"They won the comp two years ago and the young blokes coming through are really good now. We got Luke Brooks, Mitchell Moses, who had a go the other night, the young forward pack in [Nathan] Brown, [Kyle] Lovett, we've got those blokes coming through.
"They bring a lot of enthusiasm to the club and there are some good signs ahead."
However, there was a time when Woods suddenly saw himself buying in to what the newspapers were printing.
"It was funny... I love going over to the northern beaches for a swim and apparently I had a unit in Narrabeen," he said. "So you find out things about yourself you didn't know," he laughed.
In the end, the incumbent NSW prop re-signed with last year's battlers for a further three years (through 2017), somewhat validating the salary cap rule established almost 15 years ago.
Let's be honest: the Tigers needed Woods more than he needed them. As arguably the most valuable prop on the market this year, some clubs wouldn't have even bothered checking how much cash the 22-year-old commanded.
With franchise face Benji Marshall gone, and the scars of losing Andrew Fifita re-surfacing each time the Shark giant pulls on a representative jumper, Mayer was in desperate need of a win.
Especially when you consider that his squad has just seven players under the age of 27.
Some would argue that's a one-way ticket to a wooden spoon. Others, like Woods, believe it's the start of a successful era.
"If we don't make the [top] eight, it's going to be a disappointing year for us," he said. "The young guys at training, they're unbelievable, some of the things they can do."