Rumours abound the Eels salary cap drama is nearing its conclusion and the Eels will be fined an undisclosed amount and docked eight competition points by the NRL.
If this is true, the penalty certainly kneecaps the Eels but doesn’t rule them out of finals contention, given their current vein of form. The top four is almost certainly out but the Eels of 2016 are certainly capable of beating anyone on their day and at the moment, they are on more than off.
The Eels are currently on ten competition points and if docked eight, they would be reduced to two. With the two byes, that gives them six points and the likely cut off would be 28 points to make the top eight. That means the Eels would need a further 22 points or eleven wins to make the bottom half of the eight. With seventeen rounds remaining, managing eleven wins is quite a doable feat and given how the Eels have played so far, it’s a probable outcome.
Bulldogs fans will be crying in their halib (Arabic for milk) and will be searching for their musasa (Arabic for dummy) because of the much harsher penalty handed down to them in 2002, when they were caught systematically rorting the cap. They were stripped of all competition points and they had won seventeen consecutive games that year and were runaway favourites for the title. The Raiders fell into eighth spot as a result of the Bulldogs being disqualified. The Roosters went on to defeat the Warriors in the 2002 grand final.
Although, the Bulldogs went on to win the title in 2004 with the same side from 2002 plus Andrew Ryan. A signing that should never have been allowed by the NRL. A reduction in salary by the squad to get under the cap was not a fair and just punishment in my opinion.
Getting back to the Eels. It remains to be seen if such a penalty would deflate or galvanize the blue and gold or cause them to drop their bundle and put their cue in the rack for 2016.
On form, the Eels are a legitimate title chance and could very well win the title from the bottom half of the eight and given the form of the teams who make up the lower half of the eight at present, they would defeat all teams outside the top four.
The fans deserve better and the time it has taken to come to a conclusion by the NRL is a blight on our game.