Parramatta coach Brad Arthur says there’s no point in him feeling bitter with the board that forced Nathan Peats out of the club on Wednesday.
Arthur said it was “devastating” to ask Peats to take up an 18-month contract with Gold Coast, all but assuring the Eels would be playing for competition points against South Sydney on Friday.
“As a coach and as a mate, we’re pretty devastated by it. But a tough decision had to be made,” he said on Thursday morning.
“It’s unfortunate … we lost Ryan Morgan a couple of weeks ago. He’s been at our club for six years. It’s hard.”
The Eels were issued with a breach notice last week, stripping them of all 12 of their competition points, fining them $1 million, and suspending five officials for breaching the salary cap.
The officials are challenging their suspension in court.
However the hardest hit came from having to shed the popular Peats, who had coffee with his now ex-teammates on Thursday morning and is considered the heir to NSW State of Origin hooker Robbie Farah.
“He broke his neck playing for this club and played another 60 minutes with it,” Arthur said.
Arthur refused to blame the Eels board, instead trying to stay upbeat.
“I’m not going to get any benefit out of resenting the situation. That’s what it is,” he said.
“We’ve just got to deal with it. We’ve got to try and stop focusing on the negatives and try and get a positive out of it, which is, we’re playing for points.”
The besieged coach revealed the Eels had tried to move on other players on the roster who are on longer-term deals, however they didn’t want to continue paying their salaries while at other clubs.
He said a line needed to be drawn this week.
“It’s not a decision that I wanted to make but it was a decision that was forced upon us from the situation,” Arthur said.
“(Peats was) off contract next year. Unfortunately his number fits where it needs to be.
“We can try and move players out of contract next year and that becomes messy and (we) end up with them in the cap for the next couple of years. We just need to draw a line in the sand and we just need to tidy it up.”
The Eels have yet to receive official clearance from the NRL that they would be playing for points against the Rabbitohs, with the governing body still to rubber-stamp Peats’ contract on Thursday morning.
The retirement of Anthony Watmough is also expected to be medically approved as a career-ending injury.
“The NRL will examine the Nathan Peats contract tomorrow (Thursday) before making a determination on the Eels overall salary cap position,” the NRL tweeted on Wednesday night.
Gold Coast chief executive Graham Annesley will leave it to coach Neil Henry to decide whether Peats lines up against the Roosters on Monday night.