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Tigers face Knights-like rebuild: Elias

NZN 20/04/2017 Matt Encarnacion

Balmain legend Ben Elias says players come and go all the time - it just might take a while for them to make their way to Concord.

Elias has compared the Wests Tigers' looming rebuild to current NRL stragglers Newcastle after reports star duo Aaron Woods and James Tedesco are set to move to rival NRL clubs.

Hours after Tigers coach Ivan Cleary on Thursday publicly set a 24-hour deadline on the pair to accept new deals, Woods and Tedesco are understood to have agreed to switch clubs.

"Sadly, three of the juniors that we've nurtured and brought through the system, are sadly gone in one fell swoop. One stroke of a pen," Elias told AAP.

"That's extremely disappointing for the fans, sponsors and most importantly the club."

And the former NSW State of Origin rake believes the pain could reverberate for some time as the club recovers from the loss of their star trio.

Five-eighth Mitchell Moses is also believed to already have signed with Parramatta, leaving halfback Luke Brooks as the only member of the so-called 'Big Four' to stay on at the club.

The Tigers now face the challenge of luring marquee names to a franchise that hasn't played finals football since 2011 - a drought second only to Parramatta.

"This is like Newcastle," Elias said.

"It's going to take a while. We've invested in these kids for a while and suddenly they're not there. We've lost two club captains now in less than 12 months. That hurts.

"Coaches and players come and go. The club's still there, which is the most important thing. There's a lot of rebuilding.

"Our recruitment person now has the most important job in the joint. They need to get a player who's going to be attractive for other players to join the club. They have to."

Elias, who is an uncle to Moses, also urged the departing players to make the most of their final season as a squad and aim for finals football.

The Tigers are in 14th spot with two wins from their opening seven games.

"Do you write off this year? No. You've got a side there that can make the top eight. I'd be very disappointed if they wrote this year off from a coach and player's point of view," he said.

"There's a lot of life left this year. All you need is 3-4 wins in a row and you're back on deck."

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