Eels racing clock to get under cap

Parramatta face an almost impossible task to get under the salary cap before next Friday’s clash with South Sydney, according to ex-NRL club bosses.

The Eels have been told they must shed $570,000 worth of talent before they are allowed to play for points, after the NRL handed down its punishment for systemic salary cap cheating on Tuesday.

With the competition already nine rounds in, salary cap space amongst rival NRL clubs is sparse, and the exit of high-profile stars could only be brought about through an extraordinary round of musical chairs.

Grant Mayer, the former Wests Tigers and Manly chief executive and current boss of newly crowned A-League champions Adelaide United, said he would be “staggered” if the Eels could get cap compliant in nine days.

“It’s almost impossible,” Mayer told AAP.

“You have got to have the desire of the club and the players would have to want to move and that’s the challenge.”

The Eels on Wednesday reiterated their commitment to getting their house in order by Friday week, however Mayer cast doubt on that because of the natural reluctance of players to leave.

Mayer, who was at Canterbury as events and operations manager in 2002 when the Bulldogs were punished for salary cap breaches, said any player contracted beyond this year would be hesitant to move on.

“Player who have got contracts expect that they won’t be any worse off if they relocate,” Mayer said.

“That’s the issue, there’s six months of the season gone and they’d want at least 50 per cent of any figure, plus they might have two or three years left.

“Plus the relationships that will be lost.

“The player should be no worse off. It’s a complex negotiation and I’d be personally staggered if they can get it sorted before (taking on the Rabbitohs).

Ex-Cronulla boss Steve Noyce said it was not just a matter of working out how to offload players, with team morale also a factor.

“If all they had to do was get rid of players then it would all come down to mathematics,” Noyce said.

“But that doesn’t help the team, you have to look after the balance of the team and the obvious might not be the best solution.

“There’s lot of whiteboard work and calculations coming up.”

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