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Eels cashed-up but not confident of Inglis

By Ben Horne 13/12/2010 08:18:18 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta are prepared to open up the chequebook to boost their diminishing stocks in the outside backs, but the NRL club isn't holding out much hope of luring Greg Inglis.

Star centre Timana Tahu is expected to depart any day now, while experienced winger Eric Grothe shocked team-mates on Monday by announcing his immediate retirement.

Grothe's decision to hang up the boots added to speculation the desperate Eels could make a play for Inglis should his South Sydney deal not be approved by the NRL.

Salary cap auditor Ian Schubert is understood to be concerned about third-party deals at Souths.

New Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney has worked with Inglis for the star centre's entire career to date, as assistant coach of Melbourne, but chief executive Paul Osborne isn't holding his breath.

"I'm not expecting him to be anywhere except at Souths," Osborne told AAP.

While the Eels aren't anticipating Inglis will become available, Kearney admitted he was thin in outside backs and confirmed that former Manly and Penrith winger Chris Hicks was a target.

At the moment the Eels have Joel Reddy, Luke Burt, Chris Walker and Jordan Atkins as recognised options at centre and wing.

"I guess what Timana and certainly with Guru ... it leaves us in a position where we are a little short in the outside backs," Kearney said.

"Chris Hicks, I indicated he wanted to come back from Warrington but we're still working through the process of trying to find some capable guys."

Grothe's exit and the near-certain departure of Tahu means Parramatta have plenty of money to spend.

They were already cashed-up enough to make a play for Wallabies five-eighth Quade Cooper and now they're in an even stronger financial position.

Kearney said the club was still deciding whether to open the purse strings for this coming season, or leave plenty to make a big noise in the player market for 2012.

"That's something we're working through at the moment, and to give you an answer on what we do with that at this stage wouldn't be right," he said.

Osborne said a final solution to the Tahu saga hadn't been reached on Monday because of Grothe's announcement.

It's understood officials have had trouble contacting Tahu.

"No not today because we got caught up with the Guru thing," he said.

"The next couple of days ... Timana's not really a priority for us. (But) We'd rather sort it out sooner rather than later I hope."

Kearney and Parramatta players admitted they were shocked to hear former NSW and Australian representative, Grothe's decision to retire.

The 30-year-old has had trouble with his knees since returning to training and lacked desire to play on.

"It's disappointing because I think he had a lot left to offer. It's just unfortunate injuries have taken another player from our game prematurely," said captain Nathan Hindmarsh of the 142-game winger.

"I spoke to him yesterday but he was pretty certain this was the right thing to do, so there's not much you can say when someone believes their time is up and we just wish him all the best."

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