Saying what many other coaches are probably thinking, former Manly mentor Geoff Toovey is adamant that Parramatta should not be allowed to win the 2016 NRL premiership.
The league has offered Parramatta and their fans a glimmer of hope, ruling the Eels can still qualify for the finals as long as they shed players and start fielding a team within the salary cap.
Until they do, the Eels can’t earn any competition points.
But if the club can squeeze under the cap before next Friday night’s hosting of South Sydney at Pirtek Stadium, Brad Arthur’s men will have 15 games to accrue the 28 points deemed to be necessary to make the playoffs.
That means winning 12 matches and collecting another four points from two byes.
Toovey, though, is dead against Parramatta being given any hope of winning the competition this year.
“Because you’ve assembled a group of players that otherwise wouldn’t be there – and very good players too,” Toovey said on Fox Sports’ NRL 360.
“I mean, last year they signed four key, high-profile players (Kieran Foran, Beau Scott, Michael Jennings and Michael Gordon).
“How do you do that if you’re over the cap the two years before? I’m not sure.
“And then you build a winning culture so players want to play there. Juniors want to stay there and improve with those players around them.”
The Eels need to shave $570,000 worth of talent from their 2016 playing roster to be allowed to compete for points and are hoping to have Anthony Watmough wiped from the books through a career-ending knee injury.
The NRL needs to ratify the veteran forward’s retirement before his income – which would then be paid through insurance – can be removed from the Eels’ cap, relieving a large slab of pressure.
Ironically, it now appears Toovey lost Watmough to Parramatta two years ago when the Eels offered the former Origin and Test forward a four-season deal with funds the club should not have been able to spend.