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Australia

How $20,000 could derail Corey Norman's move to Dragons

Corey Norman said goodbye to his Parramatta teammates at training on Friday – even though a dispute with the club over a mere $20,000 threatens to derail his move to St George Illawarra.

The Sun-Herald can reveal Norman’s three-year deal with the Dragons isn’t yet done, with the Eels refusing to budge on how much of his contract for next season they are prepared to pay.

Norman has been telling teammates and close friends he has been granted a release, prompting reports that his move to the Dragons had be finalised. In truth, it has not.

Moving on? Corey Norman's move to the Dragons has hit a stumbling block.

Moving on? Corey Norman's move to the Dragons has hit a stumbling block.Credit:AAP

These are the figures at play.

The 27-year-old playmaker is contracted to the Eels for $940,000 next season. The Dragons salary cap is so tight for 2019 they can only pay him $510,000, despite releasing Kurt Mann to Newcastle. They can afford to pay Norman $800,000 in 2020.

Norman wanted the Eels to pay $300,000 for him to play elsewhere next year and argued this was a fair amount considering the club has been shopping him around for the past five months to other clubs.

A swap with disillusioned Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson was mooted, but he ultimately signed with the Sharks instead.

Wing man: Dragons fullback Matt Dufty could be moved to the wing in 2019 to make room for Corey Norman.

Wing man: Dragons fullback Matt Dufty could be moved to the wing in 2019 to make room for Corey Norman.Credit:AAP

The Eels compromised and have now offered to pay $250,000. Norman wants $270,000 and is standing firm.

While the Dragons expect Norman to be their five-eighth next year, nothing is going to happen until the stand-off with Parramatta ends.

Parramatta head of football Mark O’Neill was not prepared to comment on the finances involved in the deal, but told The Sun-Herald: "As we speak right now, Corey Norman remains contracted to Parramatta.''

Bizarrely, Norman said his farewells to his teammates at training on Friday. Earlier this week, Eels coach Brad Arthur made it clear that Mitchell Moses would be their preferred playmaker in 2019.

The Dragons are not commenting because they say the impasse is between Norman and Parramatta, not them. Norman’s manager, Paul Sutton, is on holidays in Bali.

As the Herald reported on Friday, the Dragons want Norman to play in the No.6 jumper alongside his former Broncos teammate and halfback Ben Hunt with captain Gareth Widdop to shift to fullback.

The Dragons’ pursuit of Norman has been met with mixed emotions from their fans. Last season’s regular fullback, Matt Dufty, might be moved out to the wing – or he might want to leave the club altogether when moved from his preferred role.

Norman also has a chequered off-field past. He is on his final warning at the Eels after being fined $20,000 in May for drinking alcohol while injured.

Despite this, Norman is considered by many in the game as a rough diamond. He is also an abundantly gifted footballer who, when he has his head right, is a devastating half. He also gives the Dragons the important option of having a laser-sharp left-foot kicker.

Should Norman’s move to the Dragons happen, it might not necessarily be the end of the player movements for 2019. The Eels will have about $600,000 to spend on another player if they release Norman.

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