If Aaron Woods can help Cronulla beat his former club Canterbury on Sunday, he won’t just be set to play finals football for the first time since 2011.
He will be almost within touching distance of a first premiership ring.
A final round win for the Sharks against the resurgent Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium would guarantee Cronulla at least a top four finish.
St George Illawarra’s capitulation against Canterbury on Sunday saw the desperate Dragons slide to sixth, allowing Cronulla to climb to fourth with a 38-12 win over Newcastle.
And Woods will be primed for battle against the club that relinquished his services in June to alleviate dire salary cap pressure.
Shane Flanagan’s signing of the 27-year-old former NSW and Australia prop is looking to be an astute one, given the success of his new found role at the Sharks.
Coming off the bench, Woods has provided Cronulla with relentless punch and size through the middle to back up starting props Andrew Fifita and Matt Prior.
Woods said he was looking forward to taking on the Bulldogs and his best mate, David Klemmer.
“I love playing against him. It’ll be good to see the boys again. I haven’t been able to catch up with all of them at once. Obviously we’ll play hard for 80 minutes then it’ll be good to catch up with them after the game,” he said.
“It happened in a split second, it was really quick. I was training at the Bulldogs one morning then I was at the Sharks in the arvo.
“I spoke to [Bulldogs coach] Dean Pay, he was really good with everything. He said it’s just a business decision. It is what it is and there’s not much we can really do. If I did go it’d really help out the Dogs. I didn’t want the boys there to suffer for a long period of time.
“I bit the bullet and ended up coming here and it’s been a really good move. I still talk to a lot of the boys at the Bulldogs, they’re enjoying it. They’ve won a few games since then and I’ve won a couple of games down here. So every party is happy now.”
If I did go it’d really help out the Dogs. I didn’t want the boys there to suffer for a long period of time.Aaron Woods
Woods is happy to finally be settled again. A controversial move from the Wests Tigers, where he was captain, to Canterbury, was in ruins three months into this season.
But he is now enjoying his new role in the shire as he has gone about proving the doubters wrong.
“That’s rugby league and that’s the business we’re in,” he said.
“Obviously it’s good that people are talking about it now. It’s different to how it was at the start of the year.
“The easiest thing for me at the moment is Flano gives me a role and I know what to do. So that’s all I’m focused on doing. People will say things outside but we don’t buy into that. We know what we can do as a team and that’s what we’ve got to do.
“It doesn’t bother me [coming off the bench]. I love my role I’m doing at the moment. This is a good group to be a part of. I’m getting more minutes than I was when I was starting.
“Our starting middles are laying a really good [platform] and Flano’s given us a job to continue what they’ve done to start the game. That’s our challenge for the reserves.
“There’s a lot of guys here I’ve played with before at rep level or teams I’ve played junior footy [in]. I played with Chad Townsend [under]-18s NSW. The Luke Lewis’, Wade Grahams, Gallens, Fifitas made the move a lot easier.
“There’s a lot of leaders around and… we don’t go out there to throw the ball around heaps. We play a pretty simple style of footy. You’ve just got to get on board and everyone’s got to be on the same level. We’re all striving to do the same thing and just do the little jobs for the team.”
As for the reception he might get on Sunday from the Canterbury faithful, Woods isn’t too concerned.
“I don’t know. I was the one that got told to look elsewhere. So not too much, really... couldn’t be worse than the Tigers one.”
He says it with a laugh. Woods will be hoping it is he and Cronulla who are laughing last on Sunday.