Stat Attack: How Woods can be missing ingredient for Sharks' title charge

Stat Attack: How Woods can be missing ingredient for Sharks' title charge

Aaron Woods left his best mate, a starting spot at Canterbury and contract money on the table to chase premiership glory with Cronulla for the next three seasons.

And the truth is, Cronulla's bench impact has needed him.

According to NRL.com Stats, there have only been three occasions this year where a Shark has churned out more than 100 metres off the bench, indicating the side is heavily reliant on starting props Andrew Fifita and Matt Prior, and evergreen workhorse Paul Gallen.

Woods's arrival has changed that effect and is showing early signs of success with the international churning out career-best figures in recent weeks.

The former NSW representative is averaging less game time since arriving in the Sutherland Shire, but his numbers have improved in attack and defence, better numbers than his decorated stint at the Wests Tigers.

Woods has averaged 45 minutes over his three games at the Sharks, down 11 minutes per game during his stint at the Bulldogs.

After receiving criticism from commentators for concentrating on an offload more than running at the line in the first half of the year, that figure has decreased to just four in three games for the Sharks, after 26 in 14 games for the Belmore club.

While offloads create second-phase play, his running metres and carries weren't as effective. His defensive deficiencies have decreased in another boost for his new club, too.

The June 30 mid-season transfer deadline can go two ways for clubs – a period to pick-up a player who can take the side to a new level, or a nightmare where disgruntled players are lost.

For the Wests Tigers, who recruited Moses Mbye and Robbie Farah, they've been the big winners in 2018.

It's no secret the Bulldogs have lost out and face the prospect of finishing last for the first time since 2008 with a depleted squad.

Meanwhile, Cronulla were the other side who took advantage of the Bulldogs' salary cap woes and Woods hasn't taken long to all but justify the club's decision.

Sharks teammate Chad Townsend believes the 27-year-old is the missing ingredient the side needed as they eye off their second premiership in three years.

"I think he's played some of his best football since he's come to us," Townsend told NRL.com.

"He's been consistently the highest player in running metres and we as players knew he could provide that for us, so we're looking for him and the rest of our pack to do that every week.

"A huge pick up for us, his go-forward and skill with the ball in hand is up there with the best props in the competition.

"He had a slow start to the season but now he's with us I really see him leading our pack. It's a different role to what he's used to coming off the bench but he's taken it with both hands."