Sharks to dump hooker to solve cap crisis
Cronulla's salary cap fine will cost them James Segeyaro with the former Dally M hooker of the year's contract set to be formally rejected by the NRL.
The elimination of Segeyaro from the Sharks top-30 roster is a hammer blow on the eve of the 2019 season - yet ultimately it will enable the club to be salary cap compliant for their round one clash with Newcastle in just five days.
Cronulla management have spent the past 10-days working around-the-clock to re-jig their roster after being forced to remove $353,000 from their salary cap as punishment for past-breaches by the NRL.
The paperwork on Cronulla's cap compliance between the Sharks and NRL salary cap auditors is expected to be rubber-stamped Monday.
Under-rated Sharks forward Ava Seumanafagi was originally earmarked as the fall-guy from Cronulla's cap drama with the Wests Tigers showing late interest in bringing the hard-running forward back to the club with whom he made his NRL debut.
However, with precious little time to work with before team's are named on Tuesday, the Sharks and Tigers were unable to strike a deal.
The $353,000 penalty has left the Sharks forced to lose a major key to their 2019 fortunes in Segeyaro, while also burning $160,000 in unspent cap space.
Cronulla now only have two NRL-ready hookers at the club in the Brailey brothers, Jayden and Blayke - who is yet to make his NRL debut.
To meet the NRL's requirements, the Sharks have also recouped $50,000 which had originally been prepaid to an unnamed player.
That $50,000 will go into the Sharks 2020 salary cap, while on top of Segeyaro, the club must lose another player before June 30.
Segeyaro, who was without a contract until the Sharks signed him only a fortnight ago, had made no secret of his willingness to play only with Cronulla.
He had received interest from Newcastle and Parramatta prior to signing with the Sharks.
The Eels have since solved their lack of depth at dummy-half by signing Matt McIllwrick from Souths.
"Even though the Knights and Eels recruited well, I felt Cronulla with what I know about the club, that premiership pursuit would give my best chance here,'' Segeyaro told The Telegraph last month.
"If it was for free, I'd still want to be right where I am today.
"When it comes down to it, to wake up every day, it's a blessing and privilege to even pull on the jersey and be part of this squad.''
Despite the likelihood of Segeyaro becoming a free agent by tomorrow, there is a possibility he could sign a NSWRL contract with Sharks feeder-club the Newtown Jets in the hope that he could return to Cronulla's top-30 roster once the club loses another player, or the club frees up cap space during the season.
Sharks CEO Barry Russell confirmed the club were hopeful of confirming their cap-compliance for round one by Monday.
"We're working non-stop over this weekend with our salary cap auditor Jamie L'Oste Brown and the NRL's salary cap auditor to reach an outcome that shows we'll be cap compliant for round one,'' Russell said.
"I'm extremely confident that will happen.''
Cronulla aren't alone in their manic end to an unforgiving pre-season with 56 players across the NRL under injury-clouds prior to this week's season-opener.
A host of the game's biggest names are in doubt with fitness tests over the next 48-hours set to determine the availability of South Sydney's Greg Inglis (knee), Brisbane's Anthony Milford (hamstring), Penrith's Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Parramatta's Junior Paulo (hamstring), New Zealand's Adam Blair (hamstring) and the Gold Coast's Ryan James (knee).
Yet without doubt one of the hardest hit has been Manly coach Des Hasler, who will be without NSW Origin star Tom Trbojevic (hamstring) and Dylan Walker (no-fault stand down) for their first-up clash with the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.
Brendan Eliott is the frontrunner to replace Trbojevic at fullback while Brad Parker has trained as Walker's cover at centre.
"It's not the best of starts, but other players will step up and take their place." Hasler said.