Eels agree to independent NRL review

Parramatta have taken a major step towards avoiding a four-point penalty at the start of next season by agreeing to undertake an independent governance review ordered by the NRL.

The Eels and the NRL have been at loggerheads over the review since the club was fined almost $500,000 in May for salary cap breaches relating to the 2014 season.

Part of the punishment include a four-point penalty for next year’s competition, unless the desired changes are implemented by February 29.

Parramatta initially wanted to use their own bookkeeper PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to conduct the review but has since decided to appoint an independent and neutral auditor, as required by the NRL.

The tender process is set to close in a week and it is understood the review will begin in earnest the following week.

“We’ll work together with the NRL to select the appropriate organisation to undertake the review,” interim Eels boss John Boulous said.

“From there, we’ll look to use the information from that review to improve what we do and take our business forward.

“That means that we’ll implement what we believe, and what the NRL believe, is most appropriate.

“And obviously the first priority within the business, is that we’ll be able to do that prior to the season.”

While it’s now likely the Eels will start on level-pegging next year, they are no closer to a resolution on whether star centre Will Hopoate will join them.

The club remains locked in a legal battle with the 22-year-old, who agreed to a new contract with former boss Scott Seward that the club says wasn’t presented to the NRL.

Hopoate’s lawyers claim the contract is enforceable.

Boulous said he couldn’t provide a timeframe for an end to the saga.

“The legal procedures are still going on. We’re no real closer on that,” he said.

Hopoate also declined to comment on his immediate future, but admitted he was growing frustrated with the ordeal.

“You can say it’s been challenging, but that’s rugby league. Things like this happen. But the sooner things get sorted out, the better,” he told AAP.

Asked whether he would join his teammates for day one of pre-season in early November, he said: “I don’t know. Time will tell.”

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