Stuart says NRL could lose Folau
Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart warns the NRL risks missing out on Israel Folau with red tape stalling the Eels’ pursuit of rugby league’s prodigal son.
Stuart said his club was “punching its head against a brick wall” in negotiations with the ARL Commission (ARLC) over how to fit Folau under the Eels’ salary cap, with the former Queensland Origin and Test star announcing at the start of the month he was ready to return to rugby league after two years playing AFL.
The saga has dragged on to the point where Stuart is no longer directly involved in talks, having left negotiations in the hands of Eels chief executive Ken Edwards – who met interim ARLC boss Shane Mattiske on Wednesday morning.
“I said early in the piece that we’ll move heaven and earth to get Izzy to the club because that’s where he wants to play,” Stuart said.
“He’s come out and said that, he’s from here, he’s got a number of close mates here, but we’re doing that and it’s been a long time so I really don’t know where it’s going to end up.
“But I can’t concentrate on that anymore … all my energy and responsibility has to be put into the team here.”
Stuart said no deal had been done between Folau and the Eels – with the club still awaiting instructions from the ARLC as to best manage any proposed contract under the salary cap.
But Stuart was adamant the ARLC had to make a swift decision on Folau’s status.
“It’d be disappointing for him to go to another code,” he said.
“… I’ve just being working hard as the club has with the league to have him play here but we seem to be just punching our heads against a brick wall.
“We’re trying to do the right thing by the game and by the league in being transparent … it would be just nice to get people in positions to make decisions.
“I just know it’s getting quite boring and tedious in terms of taking so long. I just wish someone could make a decision – say yes or no and then we can move on.”
Mattiske met Edwards and Parramatta football manager Peter Nolan on Wednesday morning and said he was able to answer some of the Eels’ questions in relation to Folau’s situation.
“It was a productive meeting. Parramatta understand the need to manage any proposed contracts in the salary cap rules,” Mattiske said.
“We’ve been able to provide them with feedback on a number of questions they had in terms of how a contract might be structured to comply with the rules.”© AAP 2013