Ennis: Sharks the best move for Woods
TAKING a pay cut to leave Canterbury and join Cronulla might turn out to be the best investment Aaron Woods ever makes.
When Woods first announced he was quitting the Wests Tigers to join Canterbury last April he upset the Tigers' faithful when he said: "I want to play finals football. I am sick of watching".
While this season so far hasn't worked out as he expected, it now looks like Woods' wish will come true in 2018.
The 27-year-old former Test and NSW prop is expected to take the field off the bench on Friday night against the Warriors for his first match in his new club colours.
And Cronulla's premiership winning hooker and former Canterbury captain Mick Ennis says if Woods buys into Cronulla's culture he can turn what has been the worst season of his career into his best.
"No doubt had he had known what state Canterbury was in he probably wouldn't have gone there," Ennis said.
"But it is what it is and he has the opportunity now to play with arguably one of the best forward packs in the competition.
"And the fact that Cronulla has so much experience in their forward pack takes so much pressure off him.
"I mean, he was a young captain at the Wests Tigers so there was a lot of expectation on him.
"Then he went to the Bulldogs replacing the captain and someone who had been outstanding for them in James Graham.
"But now he goes to Cronulla in a side that has Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen and Wade Graham and Matt Prior and guys like that, so he just has to go there and do a job.
"I think the style of football Cronulla play will definitely suit the style that we know Aaron Woods can play.
"He certainly hasn't been at his best I don't feel this year and I think with some other guys around him leading the way it will hopefully allow Aaron to find his best form."
Coming into the 10th last round of the regular season in seventh spot, Cronulla are shaping up to be the team that has all the big guns looking over their shoulders on the run to September.
Of the current top eight teams, the Sharks and eighth placed Brisbane are both on 18 competition points and the only real danger of losing their spots to either ninth placed Canberra or 10th placed Wests Tigers who are both on 14 points.
But if the Sharks can beat the Warriors it will go a long way to cementing their spot.
After the Warriors they have two guaranteed points with the bye followed by Penrith, Canberra, Brisbane, Manly, Melbourne, North Queensland, Newcastle and Canterbury.
Given the Sea Eagles, Cowboys, Knights and Bulldogs are all out of top eight contention, the Sharks have as comfortable a run home as you get in the NRL.
And Ennis believes the mid-year pick up of Woods will only strengthen their premiership credentials.
"They are a side that when September rolls around they can beat you 12-10," Ennis added. "They can beat you 16-14.
"Defensively, the systems they have in place are very good and that in itself is something Aaron will need to buy into.
"But in my opinion when you get to the finals I think your most influential players are your front row.
"We see it in the big games, we see it with Origin, you need to get there with a healthy front row rotation and I think they have that now with Aaron Woods there."