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Woods to remain Tigers captain, for now

NZN 21/04/2017 Matt Encarnacion

Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary says Aaron Woods is likely to remain captain for the rest of the NRL season, despite the club withdrawing a contract extension on Friday.

Woods and star fullback James Tedesco are all but certain to leave Concord at the end of the year after the pair failed to accept deals that would have kept them at the club long-term.

Woods is believed to be close to announcing a move to the team the Tigers face this weekend in Canterbury.

"At this stage, Aaron's the captain of the club and he'll remain that," Cleary said on Saturday.

Asked if Woods would keep the role for the rest of the year, Cleary said: "I would be very surprised if that didn't happen.

"I mean, he's the captain.

"I'm sure this is a difficult process for everyone involved, but he's the captain of the team. And I'm sure he'll show that tomorrow."

Cleary was reluctant to comment further on the pair's decision to let Friday's contract deadline pass without reaching out to the club, but was determined to move on in the market place.

More than 200 players are without a secure future beyond the end of the season, including reported targets Josh Reynolds and Ben Matulino.

Cleary, who was appointed as Tiger coach less than three weeks ago, admitted change was difficult for all concerned at the club.

"The reality is, there's a professional environment and everybody's got different ideals and goals," he said.

"I, and we, respect everyone's goals and that's how we'll always be. We are going to change at this club.

"The reality is, history shows there hasn't been sustained success.

So that's what we're going to try and gauge.

"Looking forward to doing it."

The former Warriors and Penrith coach is adamant the rebuild won't necessarily be a painfully long one, citing his combined 10 years of experience across his previous clubs.

"There's no doubt that there's a big job ahead," Cleary said.

"Fortunately, for me, I've been involved in that before. I understand the ramifications. I understand the dynamics of it all."

Tigers halfback Luke Brooks is set to make his anticipated return from a hamstring injury after being named in the 19-man squad on Saturday, alongside Justin Hunt.

The Bulldogs are unchanged from the side that won their third straight against South Sydney last week and are undefeated since coach Des Hasler re-signed earlier this month.

STATS THAT MATTER

* The Bulldogs' nine wins from 11 games against the Tigers, as well as their 26-point average, since 2011 is their best record against any opponent over this period.

* Canterbury have scored 50 points in the final 20 minutes of games (2nd in the league), while the Tigers have given up a league-worst 68 points over the same period.

* Chris Lawrence will play his 202nd match for the Wests Tigers, taking him past Benji Marshall and Chris Heighington to be the second most capped player at the club - behind Robbie Farah.

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