Jarryd Hayne and Nathan Peats will need to take significant pay cuts if they are any chance of returning to Parramatta next season.
The Gold Coast pair have been linked to a return to the blue and golds but are yet to make a call on their futures. Peats is off contract, while Hayne is yet to trigger a one-year, $1.2 million option to remain on the holiday strip next year. Fairfax Media revealed that representatives for the cross-code star have reached out to the Eels about a potential homecoming as he approaches the May deadline to take up the Titans’ offer.
The Eels priority is a hooker rather than a fullback, particularly if Isaac De Gois is forced into premature retirement due to ongoing ill effects from concussion. Peats, forced out of the club due to the salary cap scandal, would need to significantly lower his asking price from the $600k-plus his manager is currently seeking.
Parramatta also wouldn’t entertain a Hayne homecoming on the money he is currently earning. Officials are still scarred about the way in which he left, released with a year remaining on his contract, to pursue his NFL dream. The relationship was further strained after Hayne opted for the Titans over the Eels following his 49ers stint, not improved by his comments regarding the time it took to table him a reasonable offer.
If Hayne was to return, it would be on Parramatta’s terms rather than his. The Eels have already found a suitable fullback replacement in youngster Bevan French, meaning the NSW star would likely have to slot into the centres. Club powerbrokers would want Hayne to demonstrate that he is prepared to fit in with the team rather than the other way around.
Kirisome Auva’a, currently holding down a centre spot alongside Michael Jennings, said he would leave it to club officials to make a call on ‘The Plane’.
“He’s a great player and if he does come it would be great for the team and especially the fans,” Auva’a said.
“They seem to love him out in the west. Whether it does come true, we’ll have to wait and see.
“We’ve got two good fullbacks at the minute, with Gutho [Clint Gutherson] playing at the back and Bevvy due back in a few weeks time. We’ll see what happens there.”
Eels co-captain Beau Scott played down the possibility of reuniting with his former NSW teammate.
“No disrespect to Jarryd, but we’ve got a great squad here,” Scott said. “We’ve got a great fullback who is injured at the moment. We’re just looking forward to him lobbing on the paddock at the moment.
“Bevan has been great so far. Obviously it’s disappointing that he’s injured so early in the year, but that’s part of the game.”
Titans coach Neil Henry insisted he was neither worried by the approach to the Eels or how ongoing speculation might affect Hayne’s form after he put in a man-of-the-match display on return match from injury against Cronulla on Saturday.
“He [Hayne] can do it and as [Titans chief executive] Graham Annesley said, he’s got the option his way – it’s up to him to exercise that,” Henry said.
“If his manager is doing his job canvassing any options out there for Jarryd to play football, then he has to weigh up our offer against whatever else he can do.”
Hayne, 29, has until the end of next month to decide whether to take up the option to leave the Gold Coast, and Henry accepts speculation will continue until then.
“I hope he stays here,” Henry said. “He showed glimpses of what he could do last weekend and I think he’s been out in public saying he’s got a desire to play rep football.
“He knows to do that he needs to be playing good football.”