Parramatta Eels are set to farewell another star at the end of the season with Tom Opacic reportedly headed to the Super League.
According to Courier Mail, the centre has signed a three-year deal worth $500,000 a season to link up with Hull KR in 2023.
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It is a blow to the Eels and Brad Arthur who were understood to be keen on keeping the reliable 27-year-old. They tabled a one-year extension worth a reported $150,000 but Hull blew them out of the water.
The Eels are already bracing for an exodus of players at season’s end with Isaiah Papali’i, Marata Niukore, Oregon Kaufusi and Reed Mahoney having already signed with rival clubs.
Ryan Matterson stemmed the tide of departures by turning down a lucrative offer from the Dolphins to re-sign with the blue and gold.
News of Opacic’s departure prompted the Daily Telegraph’s Micahel Carryannis to question whether the Eels’ premiership window was about to slam shut.
“It just poses the question I guess with Marata Niukore, Isaiah Papali’I, Oregon Kaufusi, Reed Mahoney of course, is this it for Parramatta’s shot at the title,” he said on SEN.
“We’ve seen how good they can be on their day, it was all on display against the Roosters, but we saw how bad they can be against the Bulldogs.
“I just wonder if this is it for Parramatta for the next couple of years.”
PANTHERS STAR TARGETED BY RIVALS
The Panthers are reportedly likely to lose flyer Charlie Staines at the end of the season.
The “Forbes Ferrari”, as he has been dubbed, has found himself on the outer for the premiers and down the pecking order for his preferred position of fullback.
“One of the guys that can’t get a chance for them (Penrith) consistently is Charlie Staines,” Sydney Morning Herald’s Adrian Proszenko said on SEN 1170 Afternoons.
“I think it’s fair to say he won’t be at the club next year.
“He had been groomed as a potential long-term fullback at the club, but Dylan Edwards has cemented that considering the way he’s playing.
“There’s probably a feeling that Stephen Crichton would be next in line.”
Proszenko said there were a couple of rival clubs interested.
“A couple of clubs that are having a sniff around are the Wests Tigers and the Bulldogs,” Proszenko said.
“The interesting thing there is that they both don’t have a coach at the moment, there’s no use having a player if the (new) coach doesn’t want said player.”
What could play a key role in Staines’ decision is the future of Cameron Ciraldo.
The Panthers assistant coach is being targeted by both the Bulldogs and the Tigers as they search for replacements for Trent Barrett and Michael Maguire.
“But the interesting thing is that they’re both sniffing around Cameron Ciraldo who obviously knows what Charlie Staines, ‘the Forbes Ferrari’, is capable of,” Proszenko said.
“That will be one to keep an eye on.”