Phil Gould commits to Warriors
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 18: Former Penrith Panthers General Manager of Football Phil Gould in the mounting yard to watch his horse Jailbreak compete in race 1 during Sydney Racing at Rosehill Gardens on May 18, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Canterbury Bulldogs head of football Phil Gould has denied Nick Cotric will leave the club before, but it's the NRL rumour which simply refuses to go away.

The Bulldogs are well known to be in something of a salary cap crunch following multiple high profile signings ahead of 2022, including Paul Vaughan, Tevita Pangai Junior and Josh Addo-Carr on big money moves, as well as Matt Dufty, Brent Naden, Joshua Cook, Matt Burton, John Asiata, Braidon Burns and Max King.

Adam Elliott has departed the club in the past few weeks following an off-field issue, which has eased some of the pressure on the Bulldogs, however, it's understood they are still working with an incredibly tight salary cap.

It's understood Cotric is on a relatively large contract, and after struggling for both form and playing time due to injury in 2021, the Bulldogs may be looking to offload him, despite the best efforts of Gould to deny the rumours.

NRL Trial Match - Sharks v Bulldogs
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 27: Nick Cotric of the Bulldogs is tackled during the NRL Trial Match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on February 27, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

The Australian's Brent Read told Triple M Radio that the Parramatta Eels are still interested in the former Raider, who also represented the New South Wales Blues.

Nick Cotric has been linked with Parramatta a while ago,” Read said on Triple M.

“He is on a big deal at Canterbury.

“My understanding is that he is still on Parramatta’s radar and there is still a chance that something could happen there with Nick Cotric.

“Canterbury have a really tight salary cap. With Canterbury’s salary cap and the way it is placed their top five players, none of them are spine players."

It's understood the Eels are keen on Cotric due to their own fragilities in the outside backs, with Blake Ferguson leaving the club, and Maika Sivo set to be named alongside Haze Dunster as the first choice wingers in 2022.

“They are really short in the outside backs and Nick Cotric is on their radar and there is the potential for a deal to be done there," Read added.

The Bulldogs, having brought Addo-Carr, Naden and Burns to the club, may also view Cotric as something of a spare part player, or one who isn't needed, particularly on the salary he is on.

NRL Rd 4 - Storm v Rabbitohs
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 05: Josh Addo-Carr of the Storm looks on during the round four NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at AAMI Park on June 05, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

It's understood the Bulldogs are keen to continue building their spine, and moving Cotric on may be the way to free up money to do it.

“Canterbury have a really tight salary cap. With Canterbury’s salary cap and the way it is placed their top five players, none of them are spine players," Read said.

“Spine is a real weakness at that club and it needs to be reshaped. The cap needs to be reshaped and the squad needs to be reshaped.

“The only way you can do that is by moving players who are attractive to other clubs and Nick Cotric is one of those guys.”