Manly Warringah Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett has revealed the club may not be in a position to submit their 29-man NRL roster by the March 1 deadline due to the ongoing salary cap saga.
While it has been well documented the Sea Eagles have not been in a position to sign a five-eighth to replace Blake Green until the issue is resolved, the club has two roster spots to fill for the 2018 Telstra Premiership season.
Under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement between the NRL and RLPA, clubs are required to name a 29-man roster by March 1 and then 30 players by June 30.
Players outside of that list are not permitted to play without the consent of the NRL salary cap auditor and are likely to only be given approval to do so if the club does not have anyone else who can play their position.
However, the Sea Eagles may need dispensation as they only have 28 players in their top squad and no room to move unless the club receives a favourable ruling over alleged salary cap breaches.
“I really have no idea what will happen, to be honest,” Barrett told NRL.com.
“We have got a couple of spots to finalise so hopefully we can get a decision by March 1 because we won’t be able to do that until they tell us where we stand.
“We can’t do anything until that’s resolved. I am hoping it will be in the next few weeks and put to bed before the competition starts.”
The Sea Eagles are due to submit a response by the end of this week to the breach notice issued by the NRL on December 11 for alleged irregularities with third-party deals over an extended period.
While they were able to finalise a deal with back-rower Joel Thompson in late December, the club this week missed out on Trent Hodkinson to the Cronulla Sharks and faces the possibility of being unable to spend the full $9.4 million salary cap as a penalty.
“We couldn’t do anything. We are stuck with this salary cap stuff,” Barrett said of negotiations with Hodkinson. “It is pretty well documented that we have got room in our cap and we have still got spots in our top 30 but until this is resolved we can’t fill them.
“It’s a little but frustrating because we budget to be able to do certain things and I would like to do some things as well but it is what it is, I can’t control it.
“Last year we were pretty well advantaged. We had $1.2 million down the gurgler last year so that made it a bit difficult but we got through and we have just got to do it again.”
Besides the five-eighth role, Barrett said the squad was settled and he believes the addition of Thompson would be a huge benefit in the back row alongside Jake Trbojevic and Curtis Sironen.
“He is a real professional and he has been good for the young blokes.”
Barrett said Trbojevic had fully recovered from the pectoral tear he suffered in Australia’s opening World Cup match against England.
However, centre Dylan Walker was likely to miss the opening four rounds after breaking his leg playing for the Prime Minister’s XIII against Papua New Guinea last September.
The Sea Eagles have been in camp in Wollongong this week and are staying at the same hotel as Wigan.
Barrett, who played for 60 matches for Wigan in 2007 and 2008, said the camp had freshened his players up leading into their trials against the Cronulla Sharks and Sydney Roosters.