Tim Smith released from NRL contract by Parramatta EelsTroubled Parramatta Eels halfback Tim Smith was today officially released by the club, as the Eels try and free up funds to keep in-form playmaker Brett Finch.

Battling mental illness, Smith sought indefinite leave from the club – but raised eyebrows when he asked for further funding from the club while on leave. The Eels, while initially concerned about the possibility of Tim Smith playing for another club – had no choice but to cut ties with the young half, so they could focus energies and funding on keeping Brett Finch.

Such is the competition among clubs for players, that the Gold Coast Titans made a casual approach to Tim Smith as the half returned to his Gold Coast home. Titans CEO Michael Searle offered the olive branch to Smith and said they would be happy to help him out should he need it. While frustrating for the Eels, it seems they have no other choice but to free up the cash.

Eels chief executive Denis Fitzgerald confirmed Smith had been released from his deal after negotiations between the club and Smith’s manager David Riolo.

Fitzgerald said the release means the young player can now focus fully on his recovery from mental illness.

“The past six months have been a difficult time for Tim and his family, but now with the release from his playing contract he will be able to devote one hundred per cent of his energies to controlling the disorder without the pressures of being an NRL player in the media spotlight,” Fitzgerald said.

The 23-year-old had been contracted to the club until 2009.

Riolo said Smith was appreciative of the support he had received from the club during his career.

“Tim’s recovery is an ongoing thing, needless to say it’s been a difficult time for everyone so this resolution is appreciated,” Riolo said.

The Eels will now try to forge a new combination in the halves, the in form Brett Finch playing at 7 and the talented Feleti Mateo at five eighth. The Eels are 2 wins from 6 and starting to get the wobbles and will be keen to erase the problems that have plauged them in early season 2008.

By ricky

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