HE’S the $800,000 per season marquee man who forced James Graham out of Canterbury, but he’s not living up to his price tag.
That’s the belief of former NRL premiership-winner Michael Ennis, who says Aaron Woods is “a shadow” of what Graham has been at new club St George Illawarra in the opening rounds of the season.
Woods linked with the Bulldogs on a rich four-year deal, a move that caused Graham to sign with the Dragons on a contract worth a reported $1.8 million over three seasons.
Upon arriving at Belmore, Woods said he was excited to play the “rugged style” of football the Bulldogs are renown for.
But according to Ennis, who played for the Bulldogs from 2010 to 2014, the Australia and NSW Origin prop is yet to display those traits, and it was clear what the club had lost in Graham.
“It’s evident. Look at the Dragons at the moment,” Ennis told Fox Sports.
“(Graham) has been the heart and soul. (Dragons coach) Paul McGregor has been treasuring what James Graham has brought to that club.
“Aaron Woods, there is so much focus on Woods being a front-rower.
“We know what we get from David Klemmer. He’s aggressive, he welcomes the contact, he takes personal battles against opposition front-rowers.
“Aaron Woods stepping into Graham’s shoes, in the opening two rounds — and it’s only been two rounds, let’s not go too hard — he’s been a shadow of what James Graham has done at the Dragons.
“For me, Aaron Woods at the moment is just knocking out his numbers, but in terms of really leading this Canterbury-Bankstown forward pack, I haven’t seen that yet.”
Woods has averaged 58 minutes in his first two games, along with 13.5 runs, 115 metres and 27.5 tackles.
Asked whether the bearded prop needed to roll up his sleeves, Ennis replied: “Absolutely. The Roosters really targeted their centre-third the other day and it had great value.
“When your coach comes out over the summer and says ‘I want the Dogs of War back’ … Dean Pay was one of the household names at Canterbury for his toughness, and he wants to resemble that in his football side.
“I haven’t seen that from Aaron Woods yet, I haven’t seen that in the opening two rounds.
“I want to see him get down and dirty, I want to see him get personal.
“We saw it with young (James) Fisher-Harris and (George) Burgess on the weekend — a young kid standing his ground and welcoming that impact and collision.
“I haven’t seen that from Aaron Woods yet.”