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Anthony Watmough has been heavily linked with a move to Parramatta.
The Parramatta Eels have confirmed the signing of Test and Origin forward Anthony Watmough from Manly, along with four other new signings.

In addition to 31-year-old Watmough, the club has recruited 28-year-old ex-Knight Danny Wicks, 25-year-old Titans utility Brad Takairangi, 27-year-old Raiders outside back Reece Robinson, and 30-year-old ex-Manly prop Richie Fa'aoso, who was forced into a premature retirement by a neck injury but has now gained medical clearance to resume his career.

Watmough was this week released from the final year of his contract by Manly and takes on a four-year deal at Parramatta that will keep him in blue and gold until the end of 2018, when he will be 35. If he sees out the deal and plays the majority of the 100-odd games available to him in that time the 286-game veteran would easily surpass Darren Lockyer's all-time mark of 355 games.

The other four players have all signed one-year deals at Parramatta.

"It’s exciting news for the club to be attracting the kind of talent that we have, and it clearly shows our intention to bring sustainable, long-term success to the Eels as we continue transforming the club,” Eels CEO Scott Seward said in a club statement.

"I am confident in Brad Arthur’s ability to create a playing roster that will to be able to challenge for premierships in the many years to come."

Watmough has played 14 Origins for NSW and 16 Tests for Australia, and will add some much-needed experience to the promising young forward pack.

"Anthony is a world-class, premiership-winning player who will further bolster our forward pack for the next few seasons, Eels coach Brad Arthur said.

"He’s played almost 300 NRL games, and along with that experience he’ll bring outstanding leadership qualities that will help grow our young talent."

Watmough described leaving Manly as "the toughest thing I've done in my professional life."

"I want to thank all those who have helped me along the way. There are many supporters that I have met on my journey thus far who I now call friends and I would like to thank them for their loyal support of me and my family Elle, Claudia & Jake. I can't wait for the challenge that lies ahead," Watmough said.

Wicks returns to the NRL from a well-publicised 18-month prison term for drugs-related offences, and described the deal as "the opportunity that I needed and that I want, and I’m going to give the Parramatta club, members and fans the best of what I’ve got." 

"This might only be my second chance, but I know it’s my last, and I’m keen to make something of it," he added.

Seward said it a hasty decision to sign Wicks. "But after meeting with him I am confident he has turned his life around and will bring great value to our team." 

Fa’aoso was originally contracted to Manly for 2014 but was forced into early retirement in late 2013 after a neck injury, but has now passed initial medical clearances.

Fa’aoso’s return to the game is also subject to continuing discussions with the NRL and any conditions that may apply, the Eels said.

The club also announced the re-signing of 26-year-old utility Joseph Paulo for a two-year extension. 

"All of these players bring great talent to the game and show dedication and hard work in their training," Arthur said. 

"I look forward to seeing our team take shape for the 2015 season."

The five new signing follow the already-announced signings of Rabbitohs centre Beau Champion, Titans back-rower Cody Nelson, as well as UK-based pair, Hull centre Ben Crooks and Salford forward Shannan McPherson.
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