Phil Gould has moved to tell Bulldogs fans he has a plan for the team’s roster after the sudden departure of rising star Aaron Schoupp.
The boom talent was on Wednesday granted a release from the final two years of his contract to take up a deal with the Titans.
The departure of the strike centre comes at a time rumours continue to swirl about the club’s salary cap position with some of the team’s biggest stars being put in the shop window.
It was reported earlier this month Gould is managing the team’s salary cap and recruitment strategies having already signed Viliame Kikau, Ryan Sutton, Reed Mahoney, Andrew Davey, Hayze Perham and Franklin Pele. Star playmaker Matt Burton is also expected to receive a rich contract upgrade.
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Gould again denied the rumours of a cap crunch on Twitter on Wednesday after a backlash surrounding the departure of Schoupp.
He responded to one Twitter user, saying: “We have a plan”.
“Contrary to constant misreporting of our roster and cap positions, we have a healthy amount of money available under the salary cap for 2023. At this stage we only have a dozen or so players signed for 2024. We sit and discuss our future roster plans every day.
He said he will be “cheering” for Schoupp.
“Good deal for Aaron at the Titans. Great opportunity for his longer term future. We wish him all the best,” he posted on Twitter.
“Bulldogs are constantly assessing and reviewing our roster. Long way to go, but very happy with the way things are progressing.”
He also retweeted a comment from a fan which suggested it was a smart move from the club to let Schoupp leave while the club has exciting teenager Paul Amoti and former Rugby Sevens player Jeral Skelton available to play in the centres.
The Bulldogs earlier confirmed the news in a statement.
“Centre Aaron Schoupp has been granted a release from his contract with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs effective immediately,” the Bulldogs said in a statement.
“Contracted to the end of 2024, Schoupp had been named in the Club’s top 30 squad for 2023 but has since requested a release to take up an opportunity at another NRL Club.”
“The club has agreed to terms with Aaron to grant an immediate release from his contract,” said Chief Executive Officer Aaron Warburton.
“Schoupp has been a positive contributor to the Bulldogs Club both on and off the field and we would like to thank him for his hard work and passion during his time at Belmore.
“We wish Aaron and his family all the best for this next chapter in his career.”
Schoupp stunned his teammates when he revealed he would be signing with the Titans for the 2023 season.
It came despite him telling foxsports.com.au at the beginning of this year he wanted to win a title with the Bulldogs, declaring it “would be the best thing ever”.
“It’s my dream to win a premiership with the Bulldogs. It would be the best thing ever,” he said at the time.
“I’d love to be at the Bulldogs for the rest of my life… I want to be a Bulldog for life.”
— with Mark St John, foxsports.com.au