The NRL is confident Sam Burgess will not slip through their fingers in a repeat of the Israel Folau blunder despite the English prop’s deal with South Sydney hitting a roadblock.
The Rabbitohs have been told they must clear room in their salary cap if Burgess’ big-money three-year deal is to be registered by the NRL.
Even after releasing Dylan Walker on Thursday, the Rabbitohs were told they must shed further weight.
The situation took a further twist when Penrith passed up an offer to sign back-rower Chris McQueen.
McQueen is off contract at Redfern at the end of next season but has been shopped around to rival clubs.
He had been heavily linked with a move to the foot of the mountains however Panthers general manager Phil Gould said on twitter McQueen was out of the club’s price range.
“We’ve withdrawn from discussions with Chris McQueen. Genuinely nice bloke & quality player but not in our budget,” Gould wrote.
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said on Friday he was confident the situation could be resolved but it was up to the Rabbitohs to balance their salary cap.
“The Rabbitohs are like every one of the 16 clubs that need to balance their salary cap and I’m sure they’ll do it,” Greenberg said.
Losing Burgess, who announced his return to the game this month after a stint in English rugby union, would be a black eye for the NRL.
The NRL failed to sign dual international Folau earlier this year after he expressed an interest in returning to rugby league.
Former NRL chief executive Dave Smith was criticised for not doing more to lure Folau home in what was seen as a major lost opportunity.
However Greenberg believes Burgess’ impasse can be easily resolved.
He also reiterated previous commitments that the NRL would not use their much-talked about slush fund to top up Burgess’ contract should the Rabbitohs hit any more hurdles.
The Gold Coast shapes as a possible destination for McQueen, despite the former Queensland Origin back-rower knocking back a deal tabled by the Titans last week.