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Tim Smith released by Eels

24/04/2008 07:23:06 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta will make their first bid to retain Brett Finch next week after the NRL club showed troubled halfback Tim Smith the door.

Smith was released from the final two years of his contract having earlier been granted indefinite leave to overcome his battle with bipolar disorder.

The decision brings to an end a tumultuous three and a half years at the Eels for the 23-year-old, with a rookie of the year award and two preliminary finals interspersed with numerous off-field troubles.

But as one door closed another appears to be opening with both the Eels and Finch's manager Steve Gillis confirming contract talks were imminent.

"We're going to talk to them next week," said Gillis, who also confirmed this would be the Eels' first attempt to re-sign Finch.

"We haven't spoken money with them at all this year, next week will be our initial talks.

"They've always indicated they want to keep him, but as far as structuring some sort of deal, money's never been discussed."

With Smith's contract money now clearing some room under the salary cap, it would appear there is nothing to stop the former NSW Origin halfback from remaining an Eel.

That had looked a distant possibility just a matter of weeks ago after the club had spent much of its 2009 budget upgrading deals for exciting outside backs Krisnan Inu, Jarryd Hayne and Ben Smith.

"It certainly frees up some potential funds to retain Brett," football manager Andrew Hill said.

"Brett is certainly someone that we've said all along we'd like to be able to retain and Brett has publicly been quoted saying he wants to remain at the club. Hopefully we can come to an agreement."

Just where that leaves Smith is anybody's guess, though Gold Coast managing director Michael Searle admitted his club could be in a position to talk to him some time down the track.

Smith is currently back home on the Gold Coast where he is continuing his rehabilitation with the help of his family.

"As far as football goes, Tim needs to get his life in order before even contemplating a return to rugby league at any level," Searle said.

"After that time we would naturally talk to him as he is a Gold Coast kid."

Hill said he had not been given any timeframe on Smith's possible return to the paddock by either the player or his manager David Riolo.

Elsewhere, St George Illawarra winger Josh Morris confirmed he would join the Bulldogs on a three-year deal starting next season.

His move won't necessarily make it any easier for the club to bring back former club captain Trent Barrett, who was due to have talks with English super powers Wigan about gaining an early release.

Barrett's manager Wayne Beavis was hoping to speak to his star client late Thursday night, but any release is likely to be dependant on Wigan receiving a replacement player in return.

Canberra halfback Michael Dobson is one possibility, the Raiders playmaker well known to Wigan officials after a loan spell with the club in 2006.

Riolo, who also acts for Dobson, said Wigan was one of four Super League clubs in the race to sign the 21-year-old.

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