Coach Brad Arthur admits he has no idea how Parramatta can squeeze their way under the NRL’s salary cap.
However, the retirement of injury-troubled forward Anthony Watmough could emerge as a key part of the solution.
In handing out sanctions against the Eels on Tuesday, which included stripping them of all 12 competition points earned so far in 2016, the NRL said the Eels were $570,000 over the cap for this season.
They must cut that back before they can compete for competition points again.
Arthur said he didn’t know how the club would get under the cap before next Friday’s clash with South Sydney.
“That’s for the club and the NRL to work out,” Arthur said.
“My job is to make sure I get the players ready to play.”
Three-quarter Ryan Morgan moved to Melbourne earlier this week to ease the Eels’ troubles somewhat. But it is Watmough, who is said to be on around $700,000 a season, who takes up a far-larger chunk of Parramatta’s salary cap.
Watmough has two seasons after this one remaining on his Eels deal after joining the club last year. However, a chronic knee problem has him on the verge of retirement.
If the former representative forward is taken off the Eels’ books, that could ensure the club is salary cap compliant.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said it was something that could be looked into but would have to be signed off by the governing body.
“We would deal with that on its merits,” Greenberg said.
“There are provisions within the rules to deal with players who retire early due to medical conditions.
“The salary cap auditor has to be provided with all the medical certificates and he has to be certain that that is bona fide.”
However, Greenberg warned things might not be that simple for the Eels.
“The salary cap is a complex tool; it is not as simple as just moving a player,” he said.
The NRL ruled out Eels’ players taking across-the-board pay cuts to allow the club to drop below the cap.
That would not fall under the players’ nominal fee requirements, their worth as players as determined by the game’s governing body.