NRL 2023: Tigers-Manly eye recruitment boss swap as salary cap rumours slammed
The Tigers and Sea Eagles are eyeing a swap in recruitment bosses as Manly hit out at suggestions they have botched their salary cap for next season.
A fed-up Manly boss Tony Mestrov has hit out at suggestions the Sea Eagles are tight on the salary cap next year, rejecting whispers that there is an impending cull on the northern beaches.
The Sea Eagles have beefed up their squad for next season adding Luke Brooks, Tommy Talau and Jaxson Paulo, while extending a host of players including Josh Schuster, Tolutau Koula, Taniela Paseka, Kaeo Weekes, Christian Tuipulotu, Jamie Humphreys and Raymond Vaega.
Ethan Bullemor and Brad Parker are also likely to be handed new deals.
Their signing and retention spree has prompted murmurs that the Sea Eagles are walking a salary cap tightrope next year and would be forced to move on players.
The loss of Samuela and Latu Fainu to the Tigers will save the club $700,000 next year while Daly Cherry-Evans’ new deal is less than his current $1.2 million contract which has gifted the club cap space.
Mestrov wanted to end any suggestions that the club was in a precarious salary cap position.
“We are under the cap for next year,” Mestrov said. “We’re managing the cap very well. We’re in a really good place from our point of view. There are some clubs struggling with roster management but we’re not one of them.
“There are a lot of rumours but people don’t know the facts.”
With the new additions the Sea Eagles are tight on roster spots for next season. Mestrov said no player had been told they needed to leave the club.
“There are a few players that have been moved on including the Fainus which has freed up money,” Mestrov said. “We’ve used that money to upgrade and extend the likes of Tolutau and Taniela. We’re looking at upgrading and extending Haumole.
“We’ve used the money to bring in Luke Brooks and strengthen our roster. From a cap point of view, we don’t need to move on anyone. If we moved anyone on it would be about strengthening our squad from a roster management and balance point of view.
“We’re just sick as a club of hearing that players are being squeezed out and we have cap problems. It’s just not true and I want to set the record straight.”
Aaron Woods, Morgan Boyle and Morgan Harper are among the players facing uncertain futures with the trio off-contract at the end of the season.
Prop Matt Lodge is another without a deal for next year and his spot has been clouded after he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in just his third game for the club last Saturday night against the Roosters.
Lodge, 28, will remain at the Sea Eagles next year. It is unclear in what capacity but it is unlikely to be a top 30 deal.
It is understood the Sea Eagles may look to give Lodge a development or train and trial contract before upgrading his deal to a top 30 spot before next year’s mid-season transfer deadline – that date is yet to be locked in.
This year it was August 7 but it could revert back to its traditional June 30 deadline in 2024.
“We want to do what’s in the best interests of Matt and the club,” Mestrov said. “He has shown enough this year to indicate that he will be a great addition to the club and squad.
“We’re both working together to look at all options in order for him to be here next year.”
Meanwhile, the Sea Eagles are in discussions with former Tigers long-time recruitment officer Warren McDonnell about joining the club.
McDonnell left the Tigers earlier this year after the club signed Scott Fulton – who was Manly’s head of recruitment earlier this year.