Battle on for Cowboys to keep Scott in the saddle
THE Cowboys remain confident of retaining Matt Scott despite the representative forward meeting with Eels coach Ricky Stuart on the Gold Coast over the Christmas break.
Scott is one of a host of Cowboys stars coming off-contract at the end of the season and is attracting interest from several clubs after developing into one of the NRL's premier big men.
With fellow prop James Tamou committing to another three years at North Queensland, Scott's signature and that of five-eighth Johnathan Thurston are the Cowboys' biggest priorities at the negotiating table.
Despite Scott's meeting with Stuart, Cowboys general manager of football Peter Parr said the club was well in the hunt to keep the 27-year-old in Townsville.
"I spoke to his (Scott's) manager this morning and he told me it was a chance meeting with Ricky Stuart rather than a formalised meeting and that there's been no formal offer from Parramatta," he said.
"But the bottom line is that there are seven clubs interested in Matt and that's of no surprise to us.
"We're doing everything we can to keep him. He's been with us since he left school, he's our co-captain, he's been an outstanding contributor to our team over a long period of time and we'll do everything we can to keep him."
One-club players are a dying breed in the NRL, but Parr believes Scott would prefer to see out his career in Cowboys colours.
"I think all things being equal he'd like to stay at the Cowboys," Parr said.
"There are lots of things that go into a contract of this magnitude. Obviously, the most important thing is money. You can't deny that.
"But if we can get into the ball park with money, he'll start taking into account lifestyle, teammates, the strength of the team, what the club has done for him previously and things like being a one-club man.
"I think that will be taken into account, but only if we're fair and reasonable with what we're offering to play football from a monetary point of view, and I'm confident we can do that."
The Cowboys are still waiting for the NRL to finalise the new salary cap, but the club faces a battle to retain all their off-contract players no matter the figure.
As well as Scott and Thurston, fullback Matt Bowen, centre Brent Tate and second-rowers Dallas Johnson and Glenn Hall are also in the last year of their respective deals.
"With uncertainty around the salary cap and things like that, it's been the most difficult negotiating period I've witnessed in my time in the game," Parr said.
"But as I've said several times I'm really confident we can keep the group together."
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Valuable team asset: Forward Matt Scott charges away for the North Queensland Cowboys, who are keen to re-sign him.