Folau's price tag could see player movement

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012

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Like a number of NRL clubs, the Warriors are in a holding pattern while the Israel Folau saga at the Eels drags out.

Folau has been widely tipped to sign with Parramatta and end his two-year stint in the AFL but negotiations have been dragging on much to everyone's frustration.

When Folau does sign with someone, that NRL club is likely to face salary cap issues and Warriors coach Matt Elliott believes this will cause some movement in the player market.

While not giving out any names, Elliott admitted he is on the lookout to bring in players to bolster his squad for 2013, while continuing to work with the players already on the club's books.

"Our job is to focus on who we've got here and I am pretty content with who we do have here," Elliott said.

"I still believe we are a little skinny as a squad and we just need some depth in a few areas so we have a higher level of accountability across all positions.

"If nothing comes with it, we'll run with the squad we've got.

"My experience in footy is that people become available."

It is understood the Eels had offered Willie Tonga to the Warriors to free up some space in their salary cap but the Warriors weren't interested in the centre.

Interest in Tonga from English Super League premiers Leeds however might help Parramatta to sign Folau.

Despite Parramatta's release of Tonga's brother Esi and Kiwi second-rower Justin Horo to Manly earlier this week, it is believed that the club has only $110,000 left under the salary cap.

The Eels are looking to find third-party deals for Folau, who was granted a release from his $1.5 million-per-season AFL contract two weeks ago, but NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert has ruled out allowing them to sign the 23-year-old for $110,000.

Meanwhile, Elliott is continuing to monitor the players as they go through their second week of training and is beginning to discover what makes each of them tick.

"It takes me a bit longer than two weeks but I am . . . we are starting to find out a bit about them," he said.

"I am really not interfering with them at the moment, the other coaches and the conditioning staff are running the programme, so I am standing out of the way," Elliott said.

"I think I start next week, which is kind of cool, I get an opportunity to assert a different environment on the group."

The Warriors have once again been based at the Millennium Institute on Auckland's North Shore.

"The content hasn't changed dramatically but certainly the output from the players has taken a lot of steps up," he said of the second week of pre-season work.

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"They are not that much fitter than they were last week but their mentality to handle the workload has exponentially jumped forward and I'm delighted."

- Fairfax NZ News and Sydney Morning Herald

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