CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Nathan Peats speaks to the media in Sydney this week.
CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Nathan Peats speaks to the media in Sydney this week. Matt King

Parra normal activity as points up for grabs

THE NRL has confirmed the Parramatta Eels are now salary cap compliant and can play for premiership points for the rest of the season.

The club was stripped of all its points for breaching the salary cap by $570,000.

But after the retirement of Anthony Watmough on medical grounds, Nathan Peats' transfer to the Gold Coast Titans and Morgan Ryan's move to the Melbourne Storm, salary cap auditor Jamie L'Oste Brown said he was satisfied the Eels were now within the cap, based on the information available.

The NRL said the Eels could therefore, as part of its response to the breach notice, submit that it should be allowed to keep any points it wins against the Rabbitohs tonight and for the remainder of the campaign.

It also said the 12 points accumulated while the club was alleged to have been in breach of the 2016 cap would remain on the competition ladder until a final determination, now likely in mid-June, on the breach notice was made.

Parra needs to win 12 of its final 15 games to make finals.

It will be a hugely emotional night for Parramatta's players, who have been through the wringer in recent weeks dealing with the salary cap scandal and a health scare surrounding star player Kieran Foran, whose return to the field has been delayed another week.

South Sydney coach Michael Maguire has copped it as well, with claims this week he has lost some player support after four successive losses.

After defending fullback Greg Inglis and declaring he will stay at No.1, Maguire has relented and moved his star player into five-eighth in a bid to re-ignite the Rabbitohs' stuttering attack.

Speedster Alex Johnston takes over at fullback, but Inglis' shift is an admission by Maguire that the team's attack is not flowing or causing opposition defences enough trouble.

Inglis' form though was one of the few bright spots from last week's trans-Tasman Test win over the Kiwis, and also an indication State of Origin is not too far away.

Meanwhile, Peats said he accepted the club's decision to move him on to allow the Eels to get under the salary cap and play for premiership points against South Sydney.

Peats didn't want to comment on the Parramatta board or the club's decision to shuffle him off elsewhere to squeeze under the NRL's salary cap.

"It is what it is," Peats said. "It's business and I am looking forward to a fresh start with the Titans."

That could come as soon on Monday night against a desperate Sydney Roosters on the Gold Coast.

Chairman says new stadium is a must

NORTH Queensland chairman Laurence Lancini has flagged a bleak future for the NRL champion unless the club secures state and federal government funding to build a modern stadium in Townsville.

Lancini is campaigning for the Federal Government to match the $100 million funding package the Queensland Government has already committed toward the project.

Lancini said it was not the Cowboys' intention to turn the issue into a political "hot potato", but added it did have the potential to be a significant election issue in the region.

The Cowboys play their NRL home games at 1300SMILES Stadium, a former multi-sports complex and greyhound track which was converted into a rugby league ground when the Cowboys joined the then-ARL competition in 1995.

The ground is about half an hour's drive from Townsville's CBD and has no public transport connections.

"Over the past 20 years our stadium has been great, but now it is deficient of all the things we need to maintain our status as a premier NRL club," Lancini said.

The Federal Government has helped with the cost of several major stadiums around the country, and made a $30million contribution towards the home ground of AFL club the Gold Coast Suns, Metricon Stadium.

But it hasn't come forward with the amount of money the Cowboys are asking for.

"If we don't get the funding for a new stadium, and we have to refurbish the existing stadium, we would have to find somewhere else to play for two seasons which means we would not have a business," Lancini said.

"The likelihood of the Cowboys surviving in the longer term, unless we get a new facility, would be very difficult."

He also said even if North Queensland received state and federal funding it would take four years to build the new stadium.

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