Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill has moved to assure weary Canterbury fans that the twin departures of Aaron Woods and Moses Mbye will allow the club to re-enter the transfer market and add to their top 30 in coming weeks.
With the club battered from pillar to post and hamstrung by poor roster management that would've had them unable to make any significant signings until 2021, Hill wrote to members on Thursday explaining the decision to release Woods and Mbye.
"These are extremely difficult decisions for both the players and the club," Hill said in a message to Bulldogs members.
"However, tough decisions needed to be made now if the club is to take control of its salary cap space and find some flexibility in moving forward and re-building the squad.
"These decisions now allow us opportunities to be active in the NRL player market well in advance of when we had previously anticipated. They will also allow us to add players to our Top 30 and look at their potential in the coming weeks."
Echoing skipper Josh Jackson's comments on Wednesday, Hill denied that the rest of 2018 was a write-off, declaring "we expect more in terms of performances and results for the rest of the year."
Bulldogs players understand Woods decision
In the meantime the Bulldogs have secured 20-year-old Newcastle fullback Nick Meaney as Mbye's long-term successor at the back from next season, while Roosters back-rower Chris Smith has been signed as an immediate replacement for the injured Raymond Faitala-Mariner.
Smith had already agreed to terms on a two-year deal that would have him at Belmore at the end of the season, but has been released early to beat the June 30 deadline and reinforce Canterbury's back-row stocks.
His signing is the first under the NRL's new rule which allows clubs up to $350,000 in salary cap dispensation to replace a player who cops a long term injury in a representative fixture, with Faitala-Mariner sustaining a knee injury and a broken hand in the Denver Test.
Meaney meanwhile will take up a three-year deal from 2019 and comes highly rated as a NSW under 20s rep last season and recent a member of the NSW Residents squad.
He has also been awarded the Knights' under 20s player of the year for the past two seasons and is the second young Newcastle player to sign with the Bulldogs for next season, following halfback Jack Cogger.
The young Knights playmaker is currently facing potentially season-ending surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his finger, though Cogger has delayed any operation until after star halfback Mitchell Pearce returns from his own pec injury.
While Pearce is expected to return for Newcastle's next clash against the Eels in round 18 and Cogger is able to play on with the finger concern, it's feared his recovery could take over three months given complications around the injury.