Parramatta playmaker Corey Norman has declared his desire to remain at the embattled NRL club after being given the chance to stay on by Nathan Peats’ selfless sacrifice.
The 16,013-strong crowd at Pirtek Stadium gave Peats a rousing one-minute standing ovation during the ninth minute of their heartbreaking 22-20 loss to South Sydney on Friday night.
After being told to lose $570,000 from their salary cap, the hooker’s decision to accept a mid-season transfer to the Titans cleared the path for the Eels to finally play for points for the rest of the season.
With the departure of Ryan Morgan to Melbourne and Anthony Watmough’s retirement not enough to balance their books, the Eels were faced with having to offload either Peats or Norman.
And with the club telling him they would be unable to make him an offer for next season, Peats saw the writing on the wall and agreed to fall on his sword.
With the club’s financial picture a little clearer, off-contract Norman and his manager Paul Sutton have begun talks with coach Brad Arthur on a new deal.
The club has declared Norman their No.1 retention target and the halfback said he was keen to stay on, having blossomed under Arthur.
Asked if it was his preference to stay, Norman said: “Yeah, 100 per cent and I’m sure the club and my manager are doing everything to sort something out.”
The side’s top-eight chances were reduced to the faintest flicker following Friday’s loss to the Rabbitohs, and they must now win 12 of their final 14 games to play finals.
However, Norman said they were a club on the rise and were building towards something special, which was fuelling his desire to stay.
“We’ve had all these excuses to roll over and the way Souths came out tonight we could have rolled over and it could have been 20-something to nil, but we stuck solid,” he said.
“We’re a very tough bunch this year and we’re mentally tougher than we’ve ever been.”