Hindmarsh and Kenny endorse Stewart
Two of the greatest players to ever wear the blue and gold have endorsed Manly's Brett Stewart and out of favour Wallaby star Kurtley Beale to replace departing fullback Jarryd Hayne.
Hayne shocked the rugby league world when he announced he will be leaving Parramatta immediately in an audacious bid to secure an NFL contract in the US.
The loss of the dual-Dally M medallist is one of seismic proportions for Brad Arthur's squad, but one which club legends Brett Kenny and Nathan Hindmarsh believe opens the door for the Eels to head to market in search of marquee replacement.
And they'll have a bit of cash to play with, given the club had been freeing up close to $1 million in salary cap space to extend Hayne's contract beyond 2015.
That money can now go toward bringing disgruntled Sea Eagles back-rower Anthony Watmough across to Parramatta, while teammate Stewart looms as an attractive option as a top-shelf replacement at the back.
Stewart has already requested a release from the final year of his contract at Manly due to the decision not to offer brother Glenn a new deal, and has fielded interest from the likes of Canberra and the Bulldogs.
Reports emerged minutes after the news of Hayne's departure broke that the Eels had secured Canberra flyer Reece Robinson on a one-year deal for next year, though these are yet to be confirmed by either club.
Former five-eighth Kenny, who won four titles with the Eels during their golden run of the 1980's, said Stewart would be a perfect fit for Arthur's improving side.
"If the opportunity was right and they had the chance to get a Brett Stewart, that would be ideal," Kenny told NRL.com.
"I think you need an established fullback, and the two best going around are Greg Inglis and Billy Slater, so that won't happen, but if they can get someone that's an established NRL fullback with a lot of experience, and Stewart fits that, it'd be perfect.
"These kids in the lower grades, surely there's someone running around in the lower grades, you could bring him up into the top squad and have him work with someone like Brett, that'd be perfect for the young bloke."
Also sure to enter the mix is Beale, who has been linked with a move to the 13-man game for months. Rumours of a move to the NRL have intensified in the wake of him being stood down from the national squad as he fronts a disciplinary hearing over offensive text messages the 25-year-old sent regarding Wallabies staffer Di Patston.
Hindmarsh, who played a record 330 games for the club, ruled out chasing former league star and current Wallabies fullback Israel Folau to fill the Parramatta No. 1 jumper. The Eels legend dubbed Hayne "irreplaceable", but believes Beale could provide a similar x-factor to the NSW Origin custodian.
"Kurtley Beale's been talked about making a code switch," Hindmarsh said.
"If he was to come to rugby league, I think he'd be a good buy I'd say, he'd certainly make a go of it. He could be a good fit for Parra... But that's not a decision for me to make, that's a decision for the coaching staff and the club at Parramatta.
"Let's just face it, a big chunk of the side is missing. It's going to be hard to replace [Hayne].
"I don't think we can replace him as in the style of player he is and how he affects the team, but they're just going to have to make do.
"Like in the past, you've got to deal with what you get in front of you and I'm sure Brad Arthur and the coaching staff will find a suitable replacement."
Kenny insisted that while he believes the Eels need to look outside the club for a first-class fullback, Arthur could also find a suitable replacement within the current ranks. Over the past two years Parramatta have moved on Ken Sio and Jake Mullaney to the UK, while current under 20's fullback Nathan Davis played Australian schoolboys in 2013.
"I'd be going to market looking for that marquee player, but there's nothing wrong with looking internally either," Kenny said.
"There's not going to be another Jarryd Hayne, but there's probably someone who can do the job. If there's no one available, if there's no one that fits the club, and they have to fit, then they'll have to bring someone up through the grades.
"You look at Brisbane and Queensland with Wally Lewis, but they always had someone who could do the job, and they kept winning competitions and Origin series."