Brent Naden will go from training with the Bulldogs on Monday morning to playing against them on Friday night as a mid-season NRL recruit for the Wests Tigers.
- Naden joined the Bulldogs at the start of the 2022 season, playing eight games.
- The former Panther moved to the Wests Tigers this week and will face the Bulldogs in his first game.
- Both teams have a 2-8 win-loss record and sit in the bottom two spots in the table.
Tigers coach Michael Maguire confirmed Thursday that Naden would play, insisting he was not considering a move in the opposite direction to join Canterbury in 2023.
Instead, he said his focus remains solely on turning around the Tigers’ rocky start as they sit just above Canterbury on the ladder after 10 rounds.
And he hopes that Naden can be a part of that.
The first man to leave Canterbury following the resignation of Trent Barrett as manager, Naden can give the Tigers some attacking power down the baseline after he was named in jersey number 21 on Tuesday.
“It was great for us,” Maguire said.
“I met Brent some time ago and have always kept an eye on his progress…it just became an opportunity when he became available.
“Where we are right now, we’ve been looking for someone with a wide strikeout.
“I went back and took a look at his highlight reel from when he was at Penrith and he’s a very talented center.”
Bulldogs captain Josh Jackson called the move a shock, revealing that Naden texted the team to announce his defection.
“Brent was a little unexpected. Yesterday in the middle of the afternoon, Brent sent a message to all of us,” Jackson said.
“We weren’t in training yesterday so he couldn’t address the group. He was sorry but he told us all.”
“I spoke to him yesterday but I’m not too sure about the circumstances surrounding it, but I just called him to make sure he was okay.
“He felt quite comfortable with his decision and said he made the best decision for his family.”
The Tigers have one more spot on their 2022 roster, but Maguire didn’t go into speculation about whether former Penrith and Bulldogs player Jack Hetherington would follow Naden.
Maguire is out of contract at the end of this year, and he is far from securing an extension with the Tigers after struggling to keep his job at the end of last season.
The Tigers have two wins in 10 games and desperately need a win on Friday night, with half of Luke Brooks out for up to four weeks with a hamstring injury and Adam Doueihi also not returning until the 14th round.
But Maguire laughed off questions about whether he was eyeing the Bulldogs’ job for next year.
“My name has been in question for a lot of things in the last six or 12 months,” Maguire said.
“It’s the world of rugby league.
“But we have a great game tomorrow night… I’m very focused on the game group that we have right now.
“I really enjoyed training with the attitude of the players.
“Although we have not managed to obtain the results that we would have liked, the fight that the players have shown for the shirt and for all those who are in the club [is commendable].
“The base is there for us to push ourselves to where we want to go.”
Pressed further on whether he had spoken to his management since Barrett’s departure, Maguire said he had not discussed the Canterbury situation.
“No, I have my eyes on my players right now,” he said.
“It’s a really big game for us. I’ve seen a real change in this gaming group in the way they do things.”