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Cleary backs Tigers in life after big four

20 April 2017 9:23 PM
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Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary is adamant the struggling club can land a star recruit if Aaron Woods and James Tedesco slip through their fingers.

Friday is D-Day for the Tigers after the club slapped a deadline on the contracts tabled for the NSW representatives.

The club is playing hardball in an attempt to bring months of speculation and high drama at Concord to an end.

After losing Mitchell Moses to Parramatta on a three-year deal and retaining Luke Brooks for a further two-year term, the club has drawn a line in the sand as they seek to retain the last two of their off-contract stars.

If worst comes to worst, the Tigers must immediately begin working on a contingency and pinpointing possible recruits for 2018.

There are a plethora of high-profile stars such as Cooper Cronk and Gareth Widdop who are off-contract at the end of 2018 and Cleary said they would be in the running for any high-calibre player.

"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 credentialled players."

Woods has been linked with a move to Canterbury and was on Wednesday pictured having coffee with Bulldogs players and NSW teammates Josh Jackson and David Klemmer.

The Tigers will on Sunday take on the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium. By that point skipper Woods will know if he is staying or departing to join Des Hasler's side, while Tedesco is rumoured to be close to signing with the Sydney Roosters, with whom he has an association with through former Italy teammate and Tricolours great Anthony Minichiello.

Asked about the club's chances of retaining the pair, Cleary said he was optimistic.

"We're very hopefuly but we're realistic, it's a professional environment we live in," Cleary said.

"It's been an unusual situation, it's been going on for a long time, there's a lot of variables.

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