How the Eels spend now Semi Radradra's not returning
Parramatta Eels CEO Bernie Gurr says the club had always considered a Semi Radradra's return to the NRL a long shot and will take a 'wait and see' approach to the space left over in their 2018 salary cap.
French rugby giants Bordeaux announced the poaching of Radradra from rivals Toulon on Thursday, tying the 25-year-old up with a lucrative deal until the end of the 2020 Top 14 season.
With an option in Radradra's favour in his current Toulon contract, he had flagged the possibility of returning to the Eels in the second half of 2018.
Instead Radradra will start with Bordeaux when their 2018-19 season kicks off in August, on what French media are reporting is a healthy increase on the $1.5 million Toulon deal that lured from Parramatta last year.
His latest career move however puts him in line to represent his native Fiji at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, but doesn't change the Eels' roster plans according to Gurr, who had always assumed the big money on offer in European rugby would trump any NRL offer.
"Our belief was that the financial offerings over there were so good that he would be staying over there in any case," Gurr told NRL.com on Friday.
"We love Semi but we had always factored on him staying over there. That was as soon as he left. The offerings over there are just too good."
The Eels are happy to bide their time in the player market having picked up one of the best mid-season signings in years when Mitchell Moses arrived from Wests Tigers last May.
With Jarryd Hayne's high-profile return Brad Arthur is well served for replacement options on Radradra's left wing, where he clocked up 82 tries in just 94 matches for the Eels.
Hayne has been training at right centre since fronting for pre-season training after Brad Takairangi's shift into the back row, leaving Kirisome Auva'a, Josh Hoffman and George Jennings battling it out to partner Michael Jennings on the left flank.
Hayne's future will also be up for discussion given he returned to Parramatta on a reduced one-year deal.
The Eels currently have 28 spots in their top 30 confirmed, and under new NRL rules must fill one more by March 1, but can leave the final position vacant up until until June 30.
"There's a little bit of space (in the cap), probably not as much as anyone thinks, but there is some flexibility there for 2018," Gurr said.
"We've still got a couple of spots open in our top 30, at the lower end, and like a lot of clubs, there's the challenge of finding value for money at the lower end of the top 30 cap.
"We're prepared to be patient and see what happens.
"The bottom line is if there a bit of money to spend, then there is a bit of flexibility."