Watmough retirement could help Eels' salary cap crisis
As injured Eels star Anthony Watmough prepares to pull the pin on his 303-game career to help Parramatta continue playing for NRL premiership points this season, the five men considered responsible for the club's salary cap crisis head back to the Supreme court today claiming denial of justice.
The Parramatta Five, including three board members led by club Chairman Steve Sharp, were granted an injunction a week ago, preventing the NRL from deregistering them.
They say they club is not over the salary cap and want a chance to respond to breaches dating back to 2013, totalling more than $3 million dollars.
Part of the sanctions imposed on Parramatta this week, apart from stripping them of the 12 premiership points they have accumulated this season, and fining the club $1 million, is the condition it must reduce its current salary payments by $570,000 to be eligible to earn premiership points in the round 10 clash with South Sydney next Friday night.
The NRL however will not allow Parramatta to play for points while the five officials, who claim they weren't given procedural fairness after being compelled by the NRL to stand down as part of sanctions this week, stay on.
Watmough has emerged as the key for the club's hopes of moving forward, provided the NRL accepts his application to retire from the game for medical reasons.
The former international, who has not been able to play this season because of a chronic knee complaint, has been trying to rehabilitate the injury to get back on the field.
It's understood Parramatta has already lodged the former Manly premiership player's retirement papers with the NRL's Integrity Unit officer Nick Weeks, who will decide if the supportive medial evidence is sufficient to allow his annual income of $800,000 to come off the club's salary cap.
Even if the NRL backdates Watmough's payments to round one, the discount off their cap would not be quite enough to get the Eels under the cap.
Watmough said overnight to decision to help Parramatta out of his current predicament was a "no brainer" given his struggles with his ongoing knee pain.
"The club's bigger than me and, if I get the chance to do the right thing and have to do what I have to do for the boys to move forward, it's a no-brainer for me," he told the Nine Network.
Watmough, who has played 15 Origins for New South Wales and 16 Tests for Australia, said he was prepared to whatever he could for his team-mates who have stood by him.
A number of the club's greats, including four-time premiership winner Peter Sterling, club legends Ray Price and Brett Kenny and others have called for the five Eels officials to step down amid reports the NSW Liquor and Gaming Board had begun its own investigation in the club's activities.