Mbye to join Tigers as Woods hits the market
Moses Mbye is next week expected to put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Wests Tigers, as Bulldogs prop Aaron Woods becomes the latest big-money Canterbury player facing the prospect of departing Belmore at season's end.
NRL.com can reveal several clubs have been sounded out about potential interest in the Australian and NSW front-rower just six months into a four-year deal with the Bulldogs, including his former club the Wests Tigers.
The Bulldogs insist they aren't actively shopping Woods around, however NRL.com understands the club would be open to discussions around allowing him out of his lucrative contract to ease their salary cap burden.
Canterbury consider Josh Jackson and David Klemmer as the only two big-name players off limits to rival clubs, and are willing to consider any other offers that come their way.
As for Mbye, he has all but agreed to join the Tigers next season, however there is interest from the club to lure him away from Canterbury before the June 30 deadline for mid-season transfers.
With Canterbury's final hopes diminishing quickly, the Bulldogs would benefit greatly from allowing Mbye out of his contract mid-season and use the salary cap space to begin forward paying some 2019 contracts.
However it's understood Mbye is hesitant to walk out on his teammates and feels strongly about seeing out the year given his original reluctance to leave the club at all.
NRL.com can reveal Mbye was told by the Bulldogs that he faced the prospect of being shifted out of the fullback position and into the centres if he stayed next year, despite being one of Canterbury's best in the new role this season.
The Bulldogs will pay close to $300,000 of Mbye's heavily back-ended contract with the Tigers for the next two years.
The Bulldogs have massive salary cap restrictions that seemingly will deny them an opportunity to be genuine title contenders for at least the next three years unless they make some tough decisions.
They are in the process of clearing the decks to give them the wiggle room needed to alter the balance of the roster.
The Bulldogs are happy with Woods' contribution to the club, however there's been a realisation that their cap is too heavily invested in forwards when it's clear their problem is in the halves and backs.
There's also the political machinations of it given Woods was brought to the club by former chairman Ray Dib.
New Bulldogs chair Lynne Anderson isn't worried about being left with egg on her face over the potential release of Woods despite joining the club at the end of last season on a multi-million dollar four-year deal.
The Tigers spent big money on Russell Packer and Ben Matulino when replacing Woods last year, so any potential of bringing their former captain back to the club would hinge on how much they would want to spend.
There's no way the Tigers would even consider taking the full freight of Woods' $800,000 contract, however it could come down to how desperate the Bulldogs are in freeing up space and if they are willing to make an Mbye-type contribution to make it happen.
Whether Woods is willing to take a pay cut is unknown, however he didn't burn any bridges on his way out and has openly admitted he has a great relationship with coach Ivan Cleary and enjoyed his time under him at the club.
It only adds to the drama that surrounds Sunday's Tigers-Bulldogs game at ANZ Stadium, with Woods and Josh Reynolds lining up against their old clubs for the first time and Mbye taking on the team he could join in the coming weeks.