Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds has backed the club’s pursuit of Aaron Woods but insists it shouldn’t be at the expense of Bulldogs skipper James Graham.
Less than a week out from the Bulldogs and Tigers going head-to-head at ANZ Stadium, Reynolds – whose own future beyond this season remains up in the air – has leapt to the defence of his captain after reports linking Graham to an early release from his final year at the Bulldogs.
While Reynolds, who has a close relationship with Woods from their time together at Origin level, hopes to see the Tigers front rower at Belmore next year – he can’t understand why the club would contemplate parting ways with Graham.
“Why would you get rid of our club captain?” Reynolds told Fairfax Media.
“Let’s be honest. If Woodsy does come, he’s a great player so that will be great. But I would hate to see Graham leave this club. I can’t see that happening.
“Jimmy is our leader, but who wouldn’t want Woodsy in their team? It’s a bit of a catch-22. You definitely wouldn’t say no to having him here but you definitely don’t want to lose our leader as a result.”
Graham has been one of Canterbury’s best over the past fortnight, helping his side overcome a disastrous start to the season to notch three wins on the trot.
Although it has done little to silence talks over his immediate future, with Newcastle making inquiries about his services for 2018 considering he is on a heavily back-ended deal worth close to $1 million at the Bulldogs next year.
“I just have to focus on this year,” Graham said
“There’s a lot of external stuff and media focusing on next year, but in here we’re all just focused on this season. We believe in what we can do this year. Whatever will happen will happen. Honest to God, this group of 30 to 35 players are all in for this year. That’s all we can do.”
Reynolds is another whose future has been the subject of great conjecture over the past few weeks, unsure whether he will be at the club when he comes off contract at the end of this year.
If the Bulldogs are to land the signatures of Tedesco and Woods, they are going to have to shed a number of players from the club’s current roster.
Hooker Michael Lichaa and back Will Hopoate are expected to depart; however a match-winning performing against the Rabbitohs on Good Friday showed just why the Bulldogs can’t afford to lose Reynolds.
“I’m not that type of guy to go here and there. I just want to get it done as soon as possible,” Reynolds said.
“It’s not about coming out in the papers and saying all this stuff about it. I’ve told my manager to keep me as far away as possible because when I’m thinking about that stuff I’m not thinking about where I should be and that’s playing good footy for the Bulldogs.
“That’s who is paying me at the moment and I don’t want to let those boys down. If I’m thinking about that stuff, that’s what I would be doing.”