The Parramatta Eels have targeted Israel Folau as a potential replacement for 2014 joint Dally M winner Jarryd Hayne who yesterday announced his departure from the NRL.
Folau is under contract with the NSW Waratahs until the end of 2015 and with the Rugby World Cup on the horizon it seems unlikely that he will leave union, however CEO Scott Seward is remaining optimistic.
“Anybody who says they don’t want Izzy is lying to you. We’ll look at every opportunity out there and if he wants to come back to rugby league, we’ll certainly be a club that wants to have a chat with him.”
The 25-year-old dual international has already established himself as one of the most versatile athletes in the country, having switched codes twice already including his controversial move to the AFL from the Brisbane Broncos in 2010.
Other players being head hunted by the Eels are Bronco duo Ben Barba and Josh Hoffman.
Hoffman starred for Brisbane in the 2013 season making the number one jersey at Suncorp Stadium his own and has been linked with the Canberra Raiders. However Barba’s signing from rivals Canterbury Bulldogs last season saw the New Zealand international switch between fullback, wing and five-eighth last season. Hoffman has already voiced his concern of being phased out of Wayne Bennet’s side with the signing of Canberra Raider wunderkind Anthony Milford and the potential acquisition of Darius Boyd.
The same can be said for Barba who struggled at the Brisbane side this season. Both are under contract, however the Broncos are willing to release one of the players if the right offer is made.
Another player linked who is under contract is Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran. The 24-year-old has been with the 2011 premiers since debuting in 2009, however backroom politics and infighting has led to him reportedly wanting out of the club. The move would not be like for like but Seward admitted it might be financially possible due to Hayne’s departure.
The Eels have reportedly landed a deal with fellow Manly player Anthony Watmough.
Yesterday the Eels announced the signing of former Canberra winger Reece Robinson but it is unlikely he will be used at fullback.
A deal with any of the aforementioned names will not be imminent but Seward is sure he knows what he wants in a player.
“We have to find a replacement for the best player in the game and we will. Obviously you can’t replace Jarryd… I don’t think we should try… but we do want a side that can get out there and win the competition.” – Chris Matthews-Darby
Top photo from David Molloy’s Flickr photostream.