Eels enforcer Manu Ma’u will shift to the Super League in 2020 as prop Daniel Alvaro re-commits to the blue and gold.
Ma’u will take up a two-year deal with Hull FC in the UK next season, his departure coming despite interest from elsewhere in the NRL and Parramatta’s bid to re-sign him.
The Tongan international will exit the Australian game still regarded as one of its most fearsome forwards having turned his life around after a stint in prison in his early 20s.
Ma’u, who has played eight Tests for Tonga after initially representing New Zealand six times, said the influence of former teammates who have shifted to Hull FC helped sway his decision.
“I’ve spoken to a few players I know well about the club,” Ma’u said in a Hull FC statement.
“I keep up with Mahe Fonua from my time playing for Tonga, as well as Sika Manu and Bureta Faraimo who I know too, and they couldn’t speak highly enough about the club. That made me only more eager to join the club.
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“It’s taken a couple of months to get over the line.
“My manager kept telling there was interest from the club so it took me a bit of time to make the decision, speaking to my wife and family to think about what was best for me.
“Having a young family with a wife and three kids, it was important they were happy with the decision, and they were. We’re all thrilled.”
Ma’u has played 104 games for Parramatta since his debut in 2014.
His move is set to be followed by several roster changes in the forwards, with Tepai Moeroa weighing up a shift to Super Rugby and coach Brad Arthur in the market for a marquee prop.
Front-rower Alvaro, however, will be staying put despite being linked to the UK as well, having taken up his player option for 2020.
NRL.com understands he and the club are also close to signing off on a one-year extension on top of his current deal.