Off-contract Eels captain Tim Mannah has given the strongest indication yet that he's close to signing off on a new deal with the club.
The long-time servant has been in negotiations with club officials for months, but has been unable to agree to terms.
Mannah, who has worn the blue-and-gold since debuting in 2009, said on Tuesday that he was hopeful of announcing good news soon.
"I'd like to think we're close," he said.
"We're finishing it up. I'll let the manager and the club sort that out. Hopefully we can sort something out soon. I'd like to [stay]."
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Teammate Joseph Paulo declared it was crucial for the club to keep Mannah, who he said grew in character during last year's turbulent season.
"I think it was one of Timmy's best years last year," he said.
"Obviously results don't show that but individually I think he really changed a lot to his game. He brought a lot and I think no-one expected that from him but it just goes the kind of guy he is and the passion he has for this game and this club."
The re-signing of their 26-year-old club captain would be another huge boost for the Eels, who are equal fifth on eight points but occupy the 11th rung on the ladder after back-to-back losses prior to the Representative Round, including a disappointing 42-14 defeat to the Cowboys in Townsville.
Having responded to a 56-4 Roosters thrashing in Round 2 with an improved performance the following week against Manly, Mannah said he was confident in his side's ability to bounce back from heavy defeats – something he couldn't say about last year's team.
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"We've got a squad this year that are pretty good at bouncing back," he said.
"Not in terms of game day but if we have a bad training session, our next one we back it up with a good one. That's really important for us. We really want to make sure we make amends for our last game and performance.
"The last few years, we usually compounded it. If we had a bad loss, it snowballed.
"For us at the moment, we've got a coaching staff and group of players that are hungry for success. If we have a demoralising loss we want to make sure we get some pride back ASAP."
Last week's Representative Round came at a good time for a number of key Eels, including Mannah (eardrum), Jarryd Hayne (shoulder) and Nathan Peats (ankle).
All three will be given until the 11th hour to prove their fitness for the Johnny Mannah Cup clash against Cronulla on Monday.
"It's one of those touch and go things," Mannah said.
"It's more about making sure that [Hayne's] comfortable to play. It's a very painful injury, the AC joint. So for someone that does as much movement and passing, that will be painful. But it's just one of those things to stay on top of.
"[Peats] has got a few bumps and bruises. He's the same as Haynsey - last week he had a bit of a rest and got on top of a few of his things. But he's definitely been in pain with a few injuries this year."