Manu Ma'u: The Tongan Terminator

Parramatta forward Manu Ma'u has a new nickname and it's all thanks to the torment he went through during the Eels' painful 2018 season.

Ma'u went low in a tackle on Samoan international James Gavet during the Pacific Test match in June and copped an accidental knee to the face, instantly bringing his season to an end.

Common cheekbone fractures can see a player return to the paddock within a month but the 30-year-old joined Panthers winger Josh Mansour in 2018 with a worst-case scenario and missed the final nine rounds of the regular season.

"The boys call me the Terminator ... the Tongan Terminator," Ma'u grinned.

"When it happened, I touched my face and could feel the bone near my eye socket sticking out. I knew straight away something happened. I went back to the change rooms and the doctors looked and said no good. My eye closed and I couldn't see so went to the hospital.

"I was in pain the whole night, couldn't sleep. They put me on Endone because it was throbbing."

The Eels struggled in Ma'u's absence after he started the season as one of the side's best.

Being forced to watch his teammates slump to the bottom of the ladder from the sideline made it all the harder for the Tongan international.

"It was frustrating because we played poor the whole year," he said.

The boys call me the terminator ... the Tongan terminator

Eels back-rower Manu Ma'u

"It was difficult, especially for the boys it was a year everyone thought we'd do better than what happened ... to watch the boys take the field and not get the results we wanted."

The future of the Parramatta back-rower was placed under the public spotlight in November with speculation Ma'u could be headed elsewhere.

Ma'u has re-signed with the Eels throughout his five-year career in long-term fashion on two occasions but with off-season shoulder surgery, job security is set to come into play as he weighs up his options.

The Tongan international has three children and at 30 years of age, his next deal could loom as the final of his career.

"Like most of us there's a few of us off contract next year, we've got to train hard and take the field to impress to get another contract," Ma'u said.

"I'll see what happens. If it comes it comes. I'm just trying to focus on getting my body right. I don't do contact until January.

"I've been doing light work with contact but not full on, hopefully, come next year I can get my confidence back so it won't break again."