Salary cap squeeze to hit Manly at end of 2012 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/nrl/salary-cap-squeeze-to-hit-manly-at-end-of-2012/story-e6frfgbo-1226243927770 IT is the salary cap plague that infests every grand final-winning team. But reigning premiers Manly are suffering the severest hang-over yet as they stare into the reality of being torn apart at the end of this year. The shockwaves of Des Hasler's defection to Belmore might have eased, but successor Geoff Toovey is now riding a perfect storm of heavily back-ended contracts and big-name free agents. The Daily Telegraph this week compiled a list of 2012's free agents and Manly have eight topliners at the mercy of rival bidders. Making matters worse is the fact three of those stars Brett Stewart, Matt Ballin, and Kieran Foran constitute 75 percent of the team's all-important spine. And the fourth, halfback and 2010 Rookie of Year Daly Cherry-Evans, is now asking for an improved deal after his startling debut season. Cherry-Evans is committed to Brookvale until the end of 2013 but on a modest contract that no longer reflects his Test player status. It's believed he will only earn around a total $250,000 under the original deal, which was struck long before the Redcliffe product made his NRL debut in round one last year. Both Toovey and Sea Eagles boss David Perry acknowledge Cherry-Evans is now worth far more and are trying to do the right thing by extending the 22-year-old's deal. They would also be aware his Queensland roots would be an attraction for the cashed-up Broncos who also have halves combination Peter Wallace and Corey Norman off-contract at season's end. "We know Daly loves the club and wants to stick around," Perry said. "We see him as a long-term player who will be important to the team beyond 2013. "We're really excited by the fact he exceeded expectations in the first season he's matured at such an early stage. "We're working with his management team now to come up with something satisfactory for both parties." But the real headache is being created by star players such as Tony Williams, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, and Jamie Lyon that Manly have under lock-and-key beyond this year. When he was at Manly, Hasler committed several of those stars to back-loaded contracts. They are conspiring to gobble-up a huge proportion of the club's 2013 salary cap, thus preventing the Sea Eagles matching rival offers for their off-contract players. "It's obviously a challenge (to keep players) on the back of winning a premiership," Perry said. "All clubs are put in a position where player values increase and keeping them all under the salary cap is an issue for us". Although contracted until the end of 2014, Foran enjoys a get-out clause that was triggered when Hasler joined Canterbury last October. But while Foran is still a chance of following Hasler to Belmore next season, the Bulldogs now appear to be targetting Raiders dynamo Josh Dugan over Stewart to play fullback in 2013. Promising prop Darcy Lussick has also been heavily linked to Parramatta another club primed for a roster make-over this year. The Eels have also expressed interest in Dragons hard-man Beau Scott, and will have enough cap space to compete with any club should they not re-new contracts of a host of senior players. Coach Stephen Kearney faces some tough calls over the futures of popular trio Nathan Hindmarsh, Luke Burt and Fuifui Moimoi. Roosters officials face an identical quandry over long-serving icons Braith Anasta and Anthony Miniciello, both of whom were only given one-year extensions in 2011. Although 31-year-old Minichiello could finish his career in England, it is understood Anasta wants at least another season in the NRL and is keen to know where he stands. The Tigers, Sharks and Bulldogs are other clubs with plenty of decisions to make. Set to partner Todd Carney in the halves this season, beefy playmaker Wade Graham has already been nominated as one player Shane Flanagan is keen to keep. But according to Tigers CEO Stephen Humphreys, fans and players alike might be kept guessing for a lot longer because no-one is likely to know the salary cap's exact new capacity until midway through the year at best. The broadcast deal cannot be negotiated in earnest until the Independent Commission is finally installed a development expected late last year that's still several weeks from fruition. Insiders then expects CEO David Gallop to talk to networks for several months as he strives to deliver the code a deserved $1 billion-plus windfall per season. "We mightn't know what the cap will look like until much, much later in the year," said Humphreys, whose Tigers have representative stars Lote Tuqiri and Tim Moltzen off-contract. "The uncertainty is putting things on hold to a certain extent".