NRL Rd 8 - Bulldogs v Rabbitohs
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Luke Thompson of the Bulldogs smiles during the round eight NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Bankwest Stadium on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The Wests Tigers are set to continue their spending spree by signing Canterbury stars Nick Cotric and Luke Thompson effective immediately, bolstering their squad before a ball is kicked in 2022.

Both Cotric and Thompson are under contract with the Bulldogs until the end of 2023, but the impending arrival of Villiame Kikau and Reed Mahoney in 2023 has caused a salary cap squeeze in Belmore, handing Michael Maguire two incumbent internationals on the cheap for next season.

Having already signed Isaiah Papali'i and Api Koroisau for the following year, the Tigers have two spots left in their top 30 for next year, furthering a massive roster rebuild in Concord.

Having already snared Jackson Hastings, Tyrone Peachey and English international Oliver Gildart for 2022, Michael Maguire's squad looks a genuine chance of climbing the ladder next season.

There is also still a chance halfback Luke Brooks could depart for Newcastle in the coming weeks, though with Canterbury set to pay part of their wage, the Tigers aren't reliant on his release to sign the duo.

Word broke late last month of Cotric's impending return to the Canberra Raiders, but with the former NSW Blues winger's preference to remain in Sydney, it leaves the Tigers favourites to sign the Kangaroo immediately, boosting their centre depth.

Parramatta and the Roosters were also reportedly in the hunt for Cotric, but the chance to play in the three-quarter line is enough to sway him to Leichardt. It frees up a stack of cap space for Canterbury, who'll only have to pay a portion of his $600,000 a year salary over the next two seasons.

The same can be said for Englishman Thompson, who is set to receive just over $1.4 million over the next two-years, his wage now set to be split between the two clubs. The club is reluctant to release one of their best forwards, but the hefty salary of Kikau doesn't leave much wiggle room in their cap. Paul Vaughan and Tevita Pangai Junior's arrival will offset the loss in the middle third.

The Bulldogs' duo also deliver much-needed experience to the Wests Tigers, who are choc full of young talent. Stefano Utoikamnau, Adam Doueihi and Daine Laurie were arguably the club's three best players in 2021 - and boast a combined 116 NRL games. There was multiple times through the 2021 season where the Tigers looked like turning a corner, but lacked the leadership in key moments.

Add in the likes of Tommy Taulau, Shawn Blore and Alex Twal already in the squad, and there is an extremely bright future for one of the competition's struggling sides. While question marks remain over their 2022 season, the club could be a force to be reckoned with in 2023.