NRL news, The Mole | Eels, Manly chasing Aaron Woods for possible club switch before finals

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Parramatta and Manly are fighting a two-way battle for Sharks prop Aaron Woods – and could even get him for the remainder of this season.

The Sharks have told Woods – a former NSW and Australian front-rower – that he is free to leave at the end of the season.

Plenty of clubs have shown interest in the big man, including strugglers Brisbane, but Wide World of Sports is hearing that Woods is tossing up between the Eels and Sea Eagles.

And if a deal can be struck in coming weeks, Woods, aged 30 and a veteran of over 200 top-grade games, could be playing for his new club in the finals.

Woods’ departure is part of a massive changing of the guard at Cronulla which will also see veterans Shaun Johnson, Josh Dugan and possibly Andrew Fifita leave the club.

Another long-serving star, Chad Townsend, has already left, making a cameo with the Warriors before joining the Cowboys in 2022.

The departure of the big names – who are also on big money – will give incoming coach Craig Fitzgibbon plenty of cash to splurge on a new-look team next season.

BULLDOGS PLAYMAKER ON THE OUTER

Lachlan Lewis played his best game in first grade against the Roosters last weekend, scoring two first-half tries to keep the battling Bulldogs in the contest.

But I’m hearing that Lewis, who was only a late inclusion in the team, is unlikely to be retained by the Bulldogs as coach Trent Barrett attempts to give his team a total makeover.

Barrett has signed two fine playmakers in Matt Dufty and Matt Burton, and also has Jake Averillo, Brandon Wakeham and Kyle Flanagan on the books for next season.

Lewis has yet to be offered a deal for 2022 – a clear sign that the Bulldogs consider him surplus to requirements for next season.

MILFORD MAY BE FORCED TO SUPER LEAGUE

So where to for Anthony Milford, the highest-paid player in Broncos history who is now unwanted at the club?

Milford is still only 27 and has ability on his day – but has been a bitter disappointment in recent seasons.

One place Milford will not be going is Canberra, where his football journey began as a brilliant youngster in 2013.

Milford was put to the Raiders as a possible recruit for next year but the club isn’t interested.

Milford wants to stay in the NRL but clubs are hardly beating a path to his door following his wretched season at the Broncos, which has seen him dropped several times by coach Kevin Walters.

Super League appears his best option at this stage, where he could rebuild his form and confidence.

He is still young enough to have a couple of seasons in England to regain his mojo before attempting a return to the NRL.

CAREER LIFELINE FOR AXED SHARKS COACH

Sacked Cronulla coach John Morris looks like snaring a career lifeline at the new-look South Sydney in 2022.

Incoming Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou is considering hiring Morris, who got Cronulla to the finals in both his seasons as head coach before being axed early this season.

Morris has been given glowing references by players and the coaching staff at Cronulla and could get the chance to rebuild his career under the respected Demetriou.

Demetriou faces a massive task filling the boots of the guru Wayne Bennett, but has been doing much of the ‘hands-on’ coaching at Souths this year in preparation for his shot at the big time in 2022.

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