Dallin Watene-Zelezniak might be the one that got away but Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire looks set to get his man in Tim Mannah.
As the Wests Tigers jetted out of Sydney on Wednesday bound for Townsville and Friday's round 14 match against the Cowboys at 1300Smiles Stadium, Maguire dismissed talk of unrest in the playing ranks due to salary cap restrictions and patchy form.
After not being able to use Zane Musgrove all season due to an indecent assault case going through the courts – he has pleaded not guilty – Maguire has a prop vacancy in his top 30 squad.
Mannah, 31, who is off-contract in 2019, has asked for an early release from Parramatta and looks set to join the Wests Tigers once formalities are finished in that exit from the Eels.
"I think everyone knows what he can bring," Maguire said. "He's got good go-forward; he's a good person; a good leader… a lot of those things you want to build in your team.
"The experiences he can bring for the younger ones coming through is invaluable. I've got a few young forwards there who probably aren't ready for first grade. So they'd require someone like a Timmy to come in and really help out.
"The whole reason we want him to come is to fight our way up and play in the finals, like everyone else. It starts this weekend against the Cowboys. We need to turn things around.
"Those sorts of things like signings will sort themselves out in the background."
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There have been reports that props Ben Matulino (off contract in 2020) and Russell Packer (off 2021) are on the outer. But Packer has been dealing with an ongoing hip injury, which has kept him out of the NRL side for the past five weeks.
"You'll always have discussions around your list. But those boys have contracts so at the end of the day they are contracted with this club," Maguire said.
"There are others off contract, so there'll be chatter around that too. It's part of the arena we live in.
"For me, if we apply ourselves and the players put themselves and the team in a good position then all this chatter goes away.
"I don't see it [discontent among the playing group]. If you come to our training sessions you'll see this team evolve and grow.
"I've been around for a while and if they keep up some of these high standards on the training field, it'll transfer to the park."
Far from standing still, Maguire has already flexed his muscle with his roster. Captain Moses Mbye will be playing in the centres for the foreseeable future, with Corey Thompson shifting from wing to fullback and Robert Jennings coming back onto the wing – with a nudge from the coach to start creating points.
"He's a big talented player working hard in the back field but he's also got to make sure he's finishing at the other end," Maguire said.
"I've seen him finish many decent tries so it'd be nice to see him cross a few times and get a couple of tries for us at some stage."
The Wests Tigers sit in 11th spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder – but on 12 points they share eighth with the Eels.
While the Tigers are in ninth spot in scoring tries, they rank 16th in the number of tackle breaks made after 13 rounds.
But their defence is sound. Maguire's men have registered the fewest missed tackles in the NRL – 272 – compared with the Panthers as the worst with 520.
"For us it's about making sure we play our style of game – that's what we're after. The ladder will sort itself out if we perform well," he said.
As for Mbye, Maguire doesn't expect him to stay stagnant at left centre.
"We want to be able to shift the ball to him more. Having Moey out there will give us more of an opportunity to catch-pass and get some players on the edge.
"You'll see him wander around a little bit."
In injury news, Benji Marshall (eye) put himself on the plane.
"A real credit to him – trained all week. The doctors said you might need a rest but he said 'No, no, I want to play'. It just shows what this team means to him."