Steve Bennett rounds up the latest NRL news including surrounding the future of Aaron Woods and boosts for the Rabbitohs and Cowboys.
AARON WOODS LINKED TO A FUTURE AT THE BULLDOGS
Seven News reports that Wests Tigers captain Aaron Woods has signed a new deal with the Canterbury Bulldogs for the 2018 season.
Woods would join his halves teammate Mitchell Moses in departing the club at season’s end despite the arrival of a new coach in Ivan Cleary who was hell bent on retaining all four off-contract players.
Having already lost Moses to the Parramatta Eels next year, it now looks certain Woods will follow him out the door and further reports are suggesting that star fullback James Tedesco will also follow them as he may be headed to Bondi to join up with the Sydney Roosters.
Should Woods take his place (as expected) in the Bulldogs forward pack, it is unclear at this stage as to what will happen with current Bulldogs prop and captain James Graham.
Ironically, the Wests Tigers host the Bulldogs this Sunday at ANZ Stadium and after this breaking news the forward clash between Woods and Graham should be worth the price of admission alone.
BURGESS ESCAPES SHOULDER CHARGE BAN
South Sydney captain Sam Burgess has been cleared from the shoulder charge he was cited on by the match review committee.
The lock-forward argued in his defence that he did not use his shoulder against Greg Eastwood, instead he knocked him to the ground using his chest, neck and jaw.
Whilst replays of the incident paint a different picture, Burgess then added that he was merely bracing himself for the contact when the on-field officials penalised him for the incident.
NRL Counsel Representative Peter McGrath made a point that Burgess failed to use his arms in the tackle and claimed that he had turned his left shoulder into Eastwood.
He then accused Burgess of transferring his weight to his left foot and leant forward with his upper left arm. The video replay appeared to support McGrath’s claims however the Judiciary saw fit to accept Burgess’ appeal and dropped the grade one charge.
Burgess then left the hearing in a hurry to join his wife for dinner to celebrate her birthday.
BROOKS DEAL WITH TIGERS CONFIRMED
With the cooling off period now over, It has now been confirmed that Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks has agreed to a two-year extension of his contract and will remain with the club until at least the end of the 2019 season.
His signature relieves some of the pressure on the club who have recently seen Brooks’ halves partner Mitchell Moses sign a new deal with the Parramatta Eels.
WINTERSTEIN RETURNS FOR THE COWBOYS
The North Queensland Cowboys welcome back winger Antonio Winterstein who has been out injured with a broken arm.
It’s welcom news for the injury-struck Cowboys who are still coming to grips with missing marquee players including both co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott. The team’s casualty list also hosts fullback Lachlan Coote and hooker Jake Granville who are still weeks away from returning.
Coach Paul Green was pleased to hear of Winterstein’s return and added that other players must lift in performance to make up for the missing brigade as they take on the much improved Newcastle Knights side this Saturday night in Townsville.
Green stated that Thurston’s halves partner, Michael Morgan needs to step up in JT’s absence but at the same time “be himself” and not think he has to replace Thurston.