After being okayed to play for premiership points, Parramatta must now repair the wounds opened up by their salary cap crisis.
The NRL on Thursday informed the embattled club they were under the salary cap after the mid-season departure of hooker Nathan Peats to the Gold Coast on an 18-month deal.
The 25-year-old, who has been earmarked as a future NSW Origin representative, admitted he was disappointed at being pushed out in a hasty attempt by the club to clear $570,000 from its books.
Along with the medically-enforced retirement of Anthony Watmough, and Ryan Morgan’s move to Melbourne, Peats’ exit will ensure the club is playing for points against South Sydney at a sold out Pirtek Stadium on Friday night.
Peats said he was reluctant to move on, but took the fall for the good of the club, and it is now up to coach Brad Arthur to close up any rifts between the playing group and management.
“It is (disappointing). You don’t want to leave a club that you want to stay at. But at the end of the day, I’m looking forward to a fresh change,” Peats said.
“As long as my family and that are looked after, I’m sure I’ll have a good time on the Gold Coast.”
Peats bit his tongue when asked whether he was upset with the Eels board, some of whom have been suspended as part of the NRL’s breach notice for salary cap rorting.
“It is what it is. Footy’s a business and I’ve finally realised that it’s a business,” Peats said.
“That’s life sometimes. I’m looking forward on going to the Titans and playing some good footy up there. I just came to say goodbye to the lads and wish them good luck for the game.”
The Eels were able to satisfy NRL salary cap auditor Jamie L’Oste Brown that they were under the cap but have not named the replacement players to come into their top 25 to in place of their departed players.
As part of their punishment for systematic salary cap cheating, the NRL proposed to strip the club of the 12 points they have accumulated this season.
The points will remain on the competition ladder until the club responds to its breach notice, the Eels on Thursday granted more time to reply.
It is expected the Eels will learn the full results of the NRL salary cap investigation by mid-June.
Arthur admitted he felt “devastated” asking Peats to leave the club.
“He broke his neck playing for this club and played another 60 minutes with it,” Arthur said.
But he saw no point at being bitter with the problematic board.
“I’m not going to get any benefit out of resenting the situation. That’s what it is,” Arthur 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 considered moving 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.
Eels board member Geoff Gerard thanked the work of club consultant and former NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert to get the club’s books in order and fans for their unwavering support.