Ivan Cleary places Friday deadline on Aaron Woods and James Tedesco to re-sign with Wests Tigers
The contractual saga surrounding Wests Tigers' 'big four' will finally be resolved after Ivan Cleary placed a Friday deadline on Aaron Woods and James Tedesco to re-sign.
Cleary unexpectedly fronted the media on Thursday to reveal the club's ultimatum, believing it was in the interests of all parties after months of speculation.
Tedesco and Woods will make a call before close of business on Friday, although the Tigers are unlikely to get the answer they are seeking. Woods is expected to commit to Canterbury, while Tedesco is tossing up between four-year deals between the Tigers, Roosters and Bulldogs.
"The constant speculation has led us as a club to put deadlines on the offers to James Tedesco and Aaron Woods. That's for Friday," Cleary said.
"It's in the interest of the players and all the stakeholders. The constant speculation is becoming a hindrance to performance.
"I think it's really good for the guys, they understand that. We'd love them to stay, at this stage we have no information in regards to decisions but they will obviously come.
"Whatever happens, we will respect those decisions, of course. We're really hopeful of them staying with us and working towards building a future here.
"Whatever happens for the rest of 2017, we'll work together and make sure we deliver the best outcome for Wests Tigers."
Halfback Luke Brooks has re-signed for two more seasons, while Mitchell Moses has signed for Parramatta from next year. Cleary confirmed he had no intention of granting Moses an early release.
On Tuesday, Cleary told the manager of the players, Isaac Moses, of the Friday deadline. It now appears that Brooks will be the only member of the star quartet remaining at Concord in 2018.
"Both players were keen to sort it out and get it done," Cleary said.
"The constant speculation is starting to wear on everybody, including the boys.
"We're very hopeful but realistic. It's a professional environment we live in. It's been an unusual situation, it's been going on for a long time with a lot of variables."
The Tigers want to bring the situation to a head while there are still quality players available on the open market. They have already been linked to Warriors pair Ben Matulino and Shaun Johnson plus Dragons pivot Gareth Widdop.
"Of course, that's the professional market we live in," Cleary said.
"If that is the case, and I reiterate I hope it's not, I can certainly guarantee Wests Tigers supporters that we will be able to attract some extremely high calibre, credentialled (replacements).
"I'm sure it would be a blow (to lose all three), absolutely. All I can say is that we've done our very best. It's a professional environment, a decision the guys will make and we'll respect that decision.
"I can say to Wests Tigers supporters we are very committed to building a future with this club and I'm very confident we can do that."
Woods was photographed with Bulldogs players on Wednesday, just days before their clash at ANZ Stadium. Cleary said he had no issue with his captain being snapped with his suitors - "it's probably hard when cameramen follow you around. I'm ok with it" - as Canterbury now sweat on an answer from Tedesco.
Cleary was a consultant to the NRL before taking over from Jason Taylor. He said there had to be a better system for trading players but would leave that for the governing body to decide.
"It's unfortunate that's the system we work in, we're a good example of how it can get out of control a little bit," he said.
"I'm glad people in the NRL think it's good that the speculation is good for our game.
"Hopefully we can get beyond the speculation and deliver a good performance on Sunday.
"That's where our bread and butter is."
- Sydney Morning Herald