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Sharks prop Aaron Woods.

Seven years since his first finals series, and "about five" since he wasn't at a club either punting him or their coach, Aaron Woods is relishing the simple life.

He knows who his coach is. And he knows where he will be next week. And he knows exactly what's expected of him, be it from the starting side or "after I've picked the splinters out of my arse".

Whether Paul Gallen manages to lead Cronulla against the Storm, dictating if Woods plays at prop or off the bench, doesn't change that.

Not when Shane Flanagan's simplified game plan has him firing once more, just three months since the Cronulla coach bluntly conceded "he hasn't played well at the Bulldogs this year".

Woods is offloading less – eight times in 11 Sharks games against 26 times in 14 Canterbury games. Running more – 143 metres a game for Cronulla, 136 metres a game for Canterbury. And doing it with less time on the paddock – 50 minutes a game for the Sharks, 56 minutes for the Bulldogs.

How the Storm v Sharks rivalry developed

"At the Dogs I was probably trying too hard, throwing too many passes and I just wanted to straighten up, worry about getting quick play-the-balls and not trying to do too much," Woods says.

"There's more focus on my own job and the little one percenters right that I was doing the last couple of years.

"It's just a different game plan, a different side. Canterbury's got different strengths and weaknesses to Cronulla.

"We've just got to play to the strengths and weaknesses over here. It's just simplified my job a lot more. I've just got to worry about a couple of things not the bigger picture."

The bigger picture also took its toll. In those seven years since first tasting finals football with Wests Tigers in 2011, Woods has answered to Tim Sheens, Mick Potter, Jason Taylor, Ivan Cleary and Dean Pay.

The latter only after he replaced Des Hasler, the man who lured him to Belmore.

His current coach is negotiating an extension that will make him the first 10-year coach in Cronulla's history.

Woods was making weekly TV and radio appearances in 2017, with his contract discussions and eventual Tigers exit always the first port of call.

Unable to run headlong into a public presentation of some of the biggest decisions in his life, Woods sidesteps again when a curly one is tossed up.

Sharks weigh in on Gallen's injury progress

Eighty minutes from his first grand final and after 18 months of upheaval, was it all worth it?  

"I'm here now, I'm really enjoying it," Woods says.

"If I was still at the Tigers I wouldn't be playing semis so I've been lucky enough to get an opportunity from Shane mid-season and he's welcomed me here.

"It's been different to what I've had in the past but I've loved every second of it.

"Normally I'm booking holidays now and travelling a bit. To be a part of it has been awesome.

"Obviously the first game we played wasn't the result we wanted but we had to move on quickly, to get the win last week was pretty cool.

"The second half wasn't the best but here we are now in a grand final qualifier."

 

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