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Tigers' contract deadline on star NRL duo

NZN 6 days ago Steve Zemek

Friday is D-Day for the Wests Tigers.

In what shapes as arguably the biggest 24 hours in the history of the NRL joint venture, they are set to find out if their hardball stance has led to them retaining Aaron Woods and James Tedesco or whether the the star duo will depart their junior club.

Coach Ivan Cleary and CEO Justin Pascoe have slapped a Friday deadline on the contracts which have been tabled for the NSW representatives.

In a bid to bring to an end the constant swirl of drama and speculation which has enveloped the club this year, Cleary has drawn a firm line in the sand.

"It's in the interests of both the players and the stakeholders," Cleary said.

"The constant speculation has become a hindrance to our performance and we don't want to go into another game with that.

"I think it's really good for the guys and we'd love them to stay and, at this stage, we've had no decision, no information regarding decisions."

When he took over as coach a fortnight ago after the sacking of Jason Taylor, Cleary sent a thinly veiled message to his off-contract stars when he said everyone needed to "get on the bus".

It was a message he reiterated on Thursday when he revealed that two days earlier, he had told player manager Isaac Moses, who represents both Tedesco and Woods, that they could take the offer or leave it.

The next day, incumbent NSW fullback Tedesco was linked with the Sydney Roosters and skipper Woods was photographed having coffee with several Canterbury players amid suggestions he was set to sign with the Bulldogs.

The Tigers will face the Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon at ANZ Stadium.

The Tigers face the prospect of losing three of their so-called "big four" at the end of the year, after Mitchell Moses had signed a three-year deal to join Parramatta - a situation which would be disastrous for the joint venture.

Cleary said he was "hopeful" of hanging onto Woods and Tedesco after this week signing halfback Luke Brooks on a two-year deal.

One of the reasons why Cleary wants an answer so soon is because they would need to make contingency plans for 2018 should they miss out on Woods and Tedesco.

There is a host of high-profile stars off contract at other clubs including halves such as Cooper Cronk, Kieran Foran, Josh Reynolds and Gareth Widdop.

Cleary made it clear that the club, while it had had its dramas over the past few years, would be competitive in the market place.

"That's the professional environment we live in," Cleary said.

"If that is the case, I'll reiterate I certainly hope it's not. I can certainly guarantee Wests Tigers supporters that we'll be able to attract some high-calibre and well-credentialed players."

Tigers prop Tim Grant said while it would be a giant setback to lose both, no individual was bigger than the team.

"It would definitely be a massive blow but, in saying that, you miss out on player - it means you have money to buy another," Grant said.

"The Wests Tigers will be around a lot longer than any player and any individual and that's the game today."

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