Dyldam Parramatta Eels club Captain Tim Mannah says the ongoing salary cap speculation surrounding the Blue and Gold has produced a close-knit, focussed playing squad.
Mannah is quick to praise his coaches and teammates for their commitment to one another as the discussion of points penalties dominates media coverage ahead of the Eels’ Round 10 clash against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Pirtek Stadium on Friday night.
“We’ve had it hanging over our heads all season and I think the boys have reacted really well,” Mannah said.
“The solidarity we’ve shown thorough the whole thing has actually galvanised us and drawn us closer together. It’s not ideal, but it’s the cards we’ve been dealt and I’m really confident that we’ve got a group here, a coaching staff and playing squad, that can really deal with this adversity.”
“Brad [Arthur], along with his staff, has done a great job of creating some solidarity there and giving the boys a lot of assurance and helping us focus on what we need to focus on.”
“We’ve got a job to do and fans to turn up for. Whether we’re plus 20 or minus 20 points, our job is still the same.”
The Eels prop pointed to Anthony Watmough as a perfect example of the team-first culture brewing at the Eels.
After sustaining a knee injury in a training incident in the 2016 pre-season, and working through rehabilitation in the hope of returning to the field, the second-rower last week admitted that if his retirement would help the team’s fortunes, he would step away in a heartbeat.
“His attitude was great and I think that really shows the selfless attitude he has,” Mannah said.
“Anyone that can do something to help the team at the moment will be willing to do it, and that’s something really special that we have.”
“The thing with Choc is that it’s been hanging around for the last 2 to 3 months; he did the injury in February and it’s something we’ve been trying to fix in the last few months, but’s it’s not like we’re trying to do something that’s outside the rules.”
“He’s done an injury that can cost him his career.”
For Mannah, perspective is paramount, both on the charges leveled against the Parramatta club, and their possible impact on the Eels players.
“It’s pretty murky, we don’t know the details,” Mannah admitted.
“We don’t know how much over the cap we are, we don’t know what we need to do. It’s hard for us to comment on what’s happening in the boardroom because we don’t know all the details.”
“All we can do is focus on how we can play good footy. We’re footy players and we’re athletes and our job is to play footy. There’s no real point for us wasting too much energy on stuff we can’t control.”
“There’s people who’ve gone through much worse things than we’re going through at the moment [as players]. We’re having a few points stripped but there’s guys going through some real issues in life and I think sometimes a bit of a reality check is good.”
The Eels kick off against the Rabbitohs at 7.50pm on Friday, May 13, at Parramatta’s Pirtek Stadium. Click through for tickets.