Wests Tigers have cap space to lure Mbye now: Cleary
Ivan Cleary has confirmed the Wests Tigers have the salary cap space to accommodate a mid-season signing such as Moses Mbye while refusing to close the door on Aaron Woods returning to his junior club.
Cleary remained coy on reports linking the big-name Bulldogs pair to Concord, but he didn't exactly pour cold water on the suggestions after a gritty 14-10 defeat of Canterbury on Sunday.
Mbye and Woods are the two latest blue and white stars linked to an exit from Belmore due to the club's salary cap woes, with the former appearing to be resigned to leaving the club in a post-match interview on Sunday.
Despite being contracted at Canterbury until the end of 2020, Mbye is expected to link with the Tigers on a three-year deal from next year within the next fortnight, as revealed by NRL.com over the weekend.
"You'll have to wait and see what happens," Mbye told Triple M after the Tigers loss.
"Obviously it's been a pretty noisy couple of weeks for myself but that's the game isn't it? That's the industry.
"It's funny I've seen the club go through four coaches, three CEOs – it's a funny one but at the moment I'm concentrating on being here at the Dogs, it's getting quite frustrating."
While the current Tigers offer tabled is to begin from 2019, Cleary did not rule out adding Mbye to his current roster before the June 30 cut-off.
"We're always looking for good players, we're always looking," Cleary said when pressed on securing Mbye this year.
"Anyone involved in an NRL club will tell you, it's the way our competition works and with the transfer set-up, it's on all the time.
"You're always looking at players - whether you're going to keep them, whether you're going to look at someone else. This week will be no different to any other week."
He also declared the Tigers had a reasonable amount of cap space free in 2018 given the massive player turnover since Cleary arrived a little over 12 months ago.
Whether the Bulldogs would be willing to release Mbye could hinge on any freight needing to be paid on his heavily back-ended deal.
Questions around Woods' future have surfaced once more, just six months into four-year Bulldogs deal understood to be worth over $3 million.
While a Tigers return would seem unlikely given the club recruited Russell Packer and Ben Matulino following Woods' exit, Cleary couldn't have been more impressed with the big man's conduct as he left the joint-venture.
"We're pretty OK in that position. But as a person and a player, of course," Cleary said of Woods.
"When I got here there was lots of things going on players possibly leaving and Woodsy was one of those ... from the time that he made a decision to go to the Bulldogs, the rest of the year I thought he played really well and I really enjoyed his company and enjoyed what he added to the team."
Woods rejected media requests after the four-point loss, compounding a rough week for the 27-year-old in which he lost his NSW Blues spot after a five-year tenure.