Manly Sea Eagles have almost negotiated the end to their playing careers of Steve Matai and Brett Stewart, but they still face a fight to have the duo’s wages excluded from the 2017 salary cap.
The club have confirmed that they are in talks with the NRL, Rugby League Players Association, as well as the duo’s respective managers, on managing their retirement from the game.
Both players have ongoing injury problems, having been out of action since the middle of last season.
Neither has returned to training with the club for the forthcoming season.
Stewart has issues with a knee injury, while Matai has battled neck, shoulder and back injuries in his 230-game career.
Manly must prove that neither injury was pre-existing when the two players signed their last deals with the club.
If they cannot do that, then both players’ salaries will count towards the cap for 2017.
Under revised NRL rules around medically retiring players, Matai and Stewart could receive full cap-exempt payment of their salaries.
“Manly Sea Eagles are working with the management of both players to give them the farewell they deserve in front of their thousands of adoring fans,” a club statement read.
A complicating factor is that the decision is likely to ultimately rest with the NRL’s chief medical officer Dr Paul Bloomfield, who was the Sea Eagles club doctor for over a decade, and for the majority of both players’ careers.