Former NSW Origin winger Nick Cotric will commence training with Canberra this week after being released by Canterbury in a move expected to have a domino effect on the player transfer market.
Cotric, who joined the Bulldogs from Canberra last season, played 14 matches for his new club and was under contract for two more years, but became the latest departure from Belmore as new GM of football Phil Gould re-shapes their roster.
Canterbury have been linked with Parramatta hooker Reed Mahoney and Penrith backrower Viliame Kikau for the 2023 season but neither signing has been announced by the club.
However, Parramatta have confirmed that Mahoney is leaving at the end of next season, along with forwards Isaiah Papali'i (Wests Tigers), Marata Niukore (Warriors) and Ray Stone (Dolphins).
Parramatta last week announced the recruitment of England hooker Josh Hodgson from 2023 and his Raiders team-mate Bailey Simonsson for next season.
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Cotric is an ideal replacement for Simonsson, who the Raiders did not want to lose but felt they could not stand in his way after he was offered a three year deal with Parramatta.
Raiders CEO Don Furner said Cotric’s return to the club where he began his NRL career and to his hometown of Canberra was a timely boost.
“We’re looking forward to having Nick re-join the club for the next three seasons,” Furner said.
“Nick is a local boy who made his way through the local rugby league pathway program to the NRL, NSW and Australia, while playing for us and we know the skills and capability he has as a player.
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“Nick has indicated to us that he’s really excited about returning to Canberra and the Raiders, and we’re confident he can play his best football for us.
“The Raiders are a proud development club who invest heavily in our pathway program and to have a top-level player like Nick Cotric who has been through our system return to the club is a show of faith in this.”
Cotric has signed with the Raiders until at least the end of the 2024 season and is likely to play in the centres or on the wing next year.
Canterbury have been the biggest movers in the transfer market, with Kangaroos winger Josh Addo-Carr joining the club from Melbourne, along with Panthers pair Matt Burton and Brent Naden, Tonga international Tevita Pangai jnr and former Dragons Matt Dufty and Paul Vaughan.
The Bulldogs have also signed centre Braidon Burns and hooker Josh Cook from South Sydney, along with Storm forward Max King.
However, the club has released Cotric and second-rower Adam Elliott to Canberra, (Raiders), while Tonga captain Will Hopoate has joined St Helens and fullback Nick Meaney moved to the Storm.
Bulldogs CEO Aaron Warburton said the club wished Cotric the best for the next stage of his career after agreeing to release him from the final two years of his contract.
"I'd like to thank Nick on behalf of the club, for the great effort and level of professionalism he has shown while here at the Bulldogs," Warburton said.
"He has been a fantastic ambassador for the club, on and off the field, and we greatly appreciate the way that he has carried himself through this process."
The Raiders said Cotric would look to resume training with the club this week.