Sea Eagles reveal full details of controversial Aaron Woods swap deal

Manly's CEO has moved to calm fans and clarified the controversial swap.

·3-min read
Backrower Haumole Olakau'atu running in the NRL and Aaron Woods smiling.
Manly's CEO said superstar backrower Haumole Olakau'atu (pictured left) is one player set to benefit from the Aaron Woods (pictured right) arrangement. (Getty Images)

Manly CEO Tony Mestrov has detailed the exact reasons his club let two promising NRL forwards go in exchange for veteran Aaron Woods, insisting it makes good business sense and ensures the Sea Eagles keep their top talent at Brookvale. Manly fans have been up in arms over the deal, which saw young front-rowers Alec Tuitavake and Viliami Fifita depart for St George Illawarra in a swap for 32-year-old Woods.

Woods, who is onto his fifth club, has been playing NSW Cup at the Dragons after struggling to break into the Red V's match-day squad. Mestrov strongly defended the player exchange, pointing out the need to look after players currently doing the job in the NRL.

SURPRISE: Peter V'landys makes huge call on holding NRL grand final in Victoria

HUGE: Nathan Cleary's eye-opening remark about potential rugby union switch

Superstar backrower Haumole Olakau'atu is one player set to benefit from the arrangement. "We think we've got a very good team and as you perform better, your price-tag goes up for your better players," Mestrov told Yahoo Sport Australia.

"We've got a lot of players in that space and sometimes you've reluctantly got to move players on to accommodate others. We've got a lot of quality middles (middle forwards) and Alec wasn't going to get an opportunity this year but he might get that at the Dragons, so we let him go.

"With Vili, he played well in the trials against Souths and is an up-and-coming front-rower – no doubt about it - but will probably get a better opportunity with St George. Seibs (coach Antony Seibold) and I are on the same page with this. Our mantra is we can't keep everyone and we don’t want to deny players opportunities just so we can warehouse them."

Manly CEO backs Aaron Woods trade for future stars

Mestrov didn't deny shoring up Ola'kau'atu's long-term future played a big role in the decision to grant Tuitavake and Fifita early releases. "I want to make this point clear. Ola is on a three-year deal and is going nowhere," he added.

"We've already upgraded him following the off-season and his World Cup campaign (with Tonga) and brilliant start to the season, and we want to continue to look after him. If he continues like he's started the season and plays Origin, we want to make sure he's rewarded.

"Part of that meant letting those two players go. You'd like to avoid that where you can but you can't keep all of them."

The Sea Eagles boss also predicted Woods would prove an astute signing. "We know we've already got a good team but we felt Woodsy would add to our depth," Mestrov said.

Sea Eagles coach Anthony Seibold reacts after a game.
Sea Eagles coach Anthony Seibold (pictured) saw Aaron Woods join the club after losing young front-rowers Alec Tuitavake and Viliami Fifita in the swap. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

"He's very experienced in the middle, he's a seasoned pro and he will create internal competition for spots. He'll also be a good influence on our younger players."

Manly head to Mudgee on Saturday looking to keep their top four position intact with victory over Newcastle.

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.