Raised in the middle of Tiger town in Leichhardt now proudly a Shark, Aaron Woods notches a significant career milestone when he plays his 200th NRL game tonight.
A journey which began in 2011 when representing the Wests Tigers, Woods has gone on to play for his state, his country, and now eclipses the double century of NRL games played, not bad for someone who may not have played one game let alone 200 after medical experts declared an injury as a youngster could be career threatening.
About to face a young Broncos pack, alongside an enthusiastic group of forwards at the Sharks, Woods and his style of play has stood the test of time.
“When you watch old games from back in the day, you wonder how you used to do that,” Woods told former teammate Paul Gallen on the Wide World of Sports Radio Show. “I’m not the fastest, not the strongest front rower, but I’m big on my footy smarts, doing the job and getting myself around the field.”
Woods is being somewhat modest about his physical capabilities, with the 29-year-old sporting an impressive representative resume.
A total of 17 Tests for Australia, including the 2017 World Cup and two Four Nations tournaments, along with 14 matches for the NSW Blues in the State of Origin arena, indicates he has more than produced at the highest level.
But while Woods’ run metres and tackle counts might stand out for some, for his current coach John Morris his influence around the club, especially in relation to bringing through and providing a rugby league education to the young players at the Sharks this year, could be the most redeeming feature.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Woodsy, all the way back when I was at the Tigers he was coming through and he was training a bit of full time with us, he’s such a classy character,” Morris began.
“He brings excellent leadership qualities to this club. He has been an NRL captain, played for his country, State of Origin, so the experience he brings is just so valuable to me now with all the youngsters we have coming through.
“He brings that experience and gets around the youth, grabs them by the scruff of the neck and leads from the front.
“I’m stoked for him that he’s playing his 200th and that he’s doing it in Sharks colours,” Morris said.
After coming through the grades and the junior development program at the Tigers, with Woods also selected for the NSW Catholic Colleges, then Australian Schoolboys team in 2008 along the way, his NRL career kicked off in round one of the 2011 season at ANZ Stadium, playing for the Tigers against the Bulldogs.
"It was a Monday night against a pretty handy side. It was unreal," Woods said at the time. "I’ll never forget running at Andrew Ryan and Corey Payne, thinking gee this is the NRL. I got up thinking far out, that was a good hit. But after that the nerves were gone."
From there he would go on to play 146 games for the joint venture club, before moving the Bulldogs in 2018 for just 14 appearances for what proved to be a brief stint. Then it was onto the Sharks midway through the same season.
Woods has since represented the Sharks on 37 occasions, with tonight’s 38th game in the black, white and blue putting another exclamation point on what has been a outstanding career to date and one which is far from being over.
AARON WOODS – Fact File
Born – March 13, 1991 – Sydney
Junior Club – Leichhardt Juniors
Height – 194cm
Weight – 112kgs
Rep Honours – 17 Tests for Australia, 14 State of Origin appearances for NSW, City Origin 2012, 2014
NRL Games – 199
Sharks – 37 games
Bulldogs – 14 games
Wests Tigers – 146 games