Eels Stripped 12 Points, Fined $1million
Parramatta legend Peter Sterling believes his former club can still make the NRL finals despite being stripped of 12 competition points for salary cap breaches.
The Eels were on Tuesday slapped with a breach notice reducing them to zero competition points, and they will only be permitted to accumulate points once they bring their roster under the cap.
It means the team will need to win at least 12 of their remaining 15 matches to finish in the top eight, however Sterling doesn't believe their season is over.
"This is a side that is capable. They've got such quality and depth there and such motivation now," Sterling told the Nine Network.
"That's the ray of sunshine this morning that has been a dark day and a dark couple of months."
The sanction virtually eradicated Parramatta's best start to a season since 2001, which had them sitting fifth after nine rounds with six wins.
Combined with the wins they already recorded, they will now have to win at least 18 games this year for just the fifth time in the club's history to make the finals.
And while it is possible they may shed some talent in an effort to fall under the cap, Sterling believes their off-season acquisitions may yet help the Eels secure a finals berth.
"They're a top-four side, there's no doubt about that. Recruited extremely well and that's been demonstrated in their performances this year," Sterling said.
Chairman Steve Sharp, chief executive John Boulos, head of football Daniel Anderson, deputy chairman Tom Issa and director Peter Serraro also face having their contracts deregistered by the NRL.
Sterling said he would not be a part of the process of rebuilding the club's front office.
"I don't have the expertise," he said.
"I can help out in how the halfback might be able to do something with the five-eighth and the centre, but when it comes to that, it's out of my realm."
HOW PARRAMATTA'S SALARY CAP PENALTY RANKS
* 2002 - Ladder-leaders Canterbury are stripped of 37 competition points, ruling them out of the 2002 finals series, and fined $500,000 for salary cap breaches totalling $2 million over three years.
* 2006 - The Warriors are stripped of four competition points before the start of the season and fined $430,000 for breaching the salary cap by almost $1 million.
* 2010 - Melbourne are stripped of two premiership titles, three minor premierships, docked all competition points for 2010, fined $500,000 and ordered to return $1.1 million in prize money after over-spending the salary cap by $1.7 million over five years.
* 2014 - Gold Coast are hit with a $300,000 fine - $75,000 of which was suspended - over a salary cap breach involving former playmaker Scott Prince. A four competition point penalty was also suspended.
* 2015 - Parramatta receive a suspended four-point penalty and $465,000 fine for breaking all four salary caps across the NRL and under-20s squads.
* 2016 - The NRL issues Parramatta with a breach notice citing systemic rorting which has the squad currently about $570,000 over the salary cap and outlining penalties including loss of all 12 competition points this season, a fine of $1 million, and loss of their 2016 Auckland Nines title.
Parramatta will reportedly be stripped of all 12 competition points they have secured this season when the NRL hands down its findings into the salary cap investigation on Tuesday.
While the NRL is yet to confirm a punishment, reports surfaced from numerous sources on Tuesday morning that the Eels would be sent straight to the bottom of the ladder.
NRL boss Todd Greenberg has met with the Parramatta players ahead of an 11:30am press conference, which is also said to include a $1 million fine.
At the centre of the alleged rorting are a number of questionable third-party deals which are reported to have been made without an arm's length distance from the club.
A number of past and present Eels stars have been implicated in the scandal, including Jarryd Hayne, Anthony Watmough, Corey Norman, Chris Sandow and Semi Radradra.
There is no suggestion that any of the players or their managers have done anything wrong.
Such a penalty would require the blue-and-golds to win most of their last 15 games given 28 points is what's been required to make the finals in the past two seasons.
Any such points penalty will make them the fourth team in the history of the NRL to have points deducted for rorting, following on from Canterbury in 2002, the Warriors in 2006 and Melbourne in 2010.
A number of staffers, including chairman Steve Sharp could also be caught in the crossfire.
And while the expected announcement should bring to a close almost two months of leaks and denials, there is no guarantee the matter will be over with Sharp already suggesting a possible legal challenge.
"We are asking for a fair hearing. For allegations to be tested," Sharp wrote to members on Sunday.
"That we have the chance to face our accusers. That if there are penalties, then they are appropriate to the alleged breaches.
"That fact has been distilled from fiction. And that all of the smear and speculation which has so dominated the public arena has not been simply accepted."