Bulldogs rubbish rebuild talk despite Woods, Mbye exits
Bulldogs skipper Josh Jackson is refusing to entertain the prospect of a rebuilding period at Belmore despite the salary cap dramas that have forced stars Aaron Woods and Moses Mbye into mid-season exits to NRL rivals.
Canterbury's three wins this year is their worst through 14 games since claiming the wooden spoon in 1964, while the loss of Kieran Foran to a season-ending toe injury only piled on more pain at the battling club.
With Foran sidelined, Woods joining Cronulla on Tuesday and Mbye doing likewise with Wests Tigers a week earlier, over $2.5 million of the Bulldogs salary cap has been wiped from their playing stocks in a fortnight, following on from the high profile departures of James Graham and Josh Reynolds last season.
The Bulldogs new administration has previously conceded the salary cap predicament would rule them out of any significant signings until 2021.
Even with Woods and Mbye moving on (with the Bulldogs paying some freight to the Sharks and Tigers respectively), Canterbury will look to their own ranks and the lower end of the player market to fill Dean Pay's roster.
Despite the current cohort languishing in 15th place and a wooden spoon battle looming, Jackson is adamant his side can find success and a return to finals football in 2019.
"We're definitely not talking about rebuilding here," Jackson said.
"We're competing. We want to be competing every week and we want to be in the finals.
"This year will it happen? It's unlikely that it will but certainly for next year we're definitely looking at competing and being one of those teams that are right up there come September."
Woods' sudden departure saw the representative prop recovering through a pool session with Canterbury teammates on Tuesday morning before travelling across town and completing a field session with Cronulla in the afternoon.
His four-year deal with the Bulldogs lasted just 14 games. Rubbing salt into the wounds of Canterbury fans, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan declared his club can afford to have veterans Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen play on in 2019 even with Woods' arrival.
It's understood Woods has taken a pay cut to join Cronulla and have his future sorted once and for all, which Flanagan declared allows the Sharks room to accommodate both Lewis (34) and Gallen (36) as they weigh up their respective futures.
"With the June 30 deadline and the Bulldogs pretty desperate to get some salary-cap relief I was holding the cards," Flanagan told reporters as his side flew to Auckland for Friday's clash with the Warriors.
"I was just sitting back waiting and it fell in our hands ... I stuck to our guns there and in the end it worked.
"In the back of our mind one or both could retire, one or both could battle on next year.
"We're in a good cap position for this year, next year and years to come."