Whirlwind 18 months pays off for Woods

Aaron Woods is reveling in his mid-season move to Cronulla.
Aaron Woods is reveling in his mid-season move to Cronulla.

Aaron Woods has been forced to go through some heartache over the last 18 months but his tough decisions are beginning to pay off as he eyes a maiden NRL grand final appearance.

After his high profile departure from junior club Wests Tigers and then being moved on as a result of Canterbury's salary cap squeeze, Woods has found a home and is loving life in Cronulla.

And why wouldn't he? He's playing finals football for the first time since 2011 - something he knows wouldn't have happened had he stayed at the Tigers or Dogs.

"Normally I'm booking holidays now and travel a bit. To be a part of it is awesome," Woods said.

Woods bears no ill will towards the Bulldogs and knows that had he stayed at Belmore, the club would have been under extreme salary cap pressure as a result of financial mismanagement.

He is also grateful to Sharks coach Shane Flanagan for offering him an opportunity mid-season.

And while he has been forced to play off the bench, he says it hasn't affected him in the slightest given the side is winning and one game away from a grand final berth.

"I'm here now and I'm really enjoying it," Woods said.

"But if I was still at the Tigers I wouldn't be playing semis. I've been lucky enough to get an opportunity from Shane mid-season.

"His role for me has been different from what I've had in the past. I've loved every second of it.

"People have asked 'do you like coming off the bench?' Nobody cares. I'm just happy to be playing some good footy in a side that's going well."

Woods could be promoted to the starting side for Friday's preliminary final against Melbourne with skipper Paul Gallen struggling with a shoulder injury.

He credits Flanagan with simplifying his play and says his game plan has complemented his strengths as a front-rower.

"At the Dogs we were probably trying too hard, throwing too many passes," Woods said.

"And (Flanagan) just wanted me to straighten up, just worry about getting quick play-the-balls and not trying to do too much. Laying lines, we've got halves to do that for us here.

"Just do my own job and do the little one per-centers right."

Australian Associated Press