Parramatta are considering offering Dallin Watene-Zelezniak a deal to join the club immediately as Penrith search for answers to their horror start to 2019.
NRL.com understands the Eels have been in discussions with Watene-Zelezniak’s manager over the past week and could table a deal to lure the New Zealand captain to Parramatta to play right centre in the coming weeks.
He also could be a fallback option at fullback if skipper Clint Gutherson doesn’t commit to the club, however the Eels are confident the captain will re-sign.
While Watene-Zelezniak hasn’t requested a release from the final 18 months of his deal at the Panthers, it’s understood the club is growing increasingly frustrated with their sub-par opening to the year and are about to start wielding the axe.
The 23-year-old has struggled this season but there’s no doubting his ability as a world class player. Watene-Zelezniak showcased his capabilities in an impressive tour for the Kiwis against England last year.
Coach Ivan Cleary refused to rule out overhauling his roster and moving players on when asked after his team’s loss to the Wests Tigers on Friday night.
Match Highlights: Wests Tigers v Panthers
It’s understood the Panthers are aware of Parramatta’s interest in Watene-Zelezniak and are privately open to discussing his departure should he come to them in the coming days, however the Eels are yet to gain permission from the Panthers to table him a deal.
The Eels are exploring a couple of options, but Watene-Zelezniak is the most advanced at this stage.
The club has a recruitment and retention meeting this week, with the Panthers winger to be discussed among other retention matters.
Watene-Zelezniak has long held a desire to wear the No.1 jersey but his chances have been limited this season.
It’s understood the Eels want to play Watene-Zelezniak as a right centre and shift Brad Takairangi to the forwards, but could be tempted to play him at fullback and shift Gutherson to the halves in the absence of the injured Dylan Brown should he arrive in the coming weeks.
If negotiations are fast-tracked, Watene-Zelezniak’s first game for the Eels could be against the Panthers in round 11 at Bankwest Stadium.
Day 3 - Munster baits Smith about Origin return