Parramatta fan favourite Maika Sivo is being lined up as the first off-contract Eels domino to fall with the flying Fijian close to re-signing on a two-year deal.
While back-row star Ryan Matterson has made headlines for being shopped to rival clubs, NRL.com understands negotiations around Sivo staying in blue and gold are close to completion.
Retaining Sivo looms as a coup for Parramatta given lucrative interest from French rugby outfits that will see him sacrifice a significant six-figure sum to stay in the NRL.
Negotiations around an Eels extension until the end of 2023 are understood to be almost done, with the deal to be finalised over the next week.
Despite the clear financial incentives on offer in overseas rugby, where ex-Eel Semi Radradra now plies his trade on a multimillion-dollar deal with English outfit Bristol, Sivo is understood to be prioritising permanent residency and the career he has set up with Parramatta.
Episode 3 - Andrew Abdo and Justin Holbrook
With 37 tries in 47 NRL appearances, Sivo's preference has always been to stay at the Eels if the right deal can be worked out.
Coach Brad Arthur is confident Matterson sits in the same boat after his management emailed NRL clubs last week requesting expressions of interest in him for 2022, as first reported by The Australian.
The fringe NSW Origin forward has an option in his favour for next season in a similar manner to Mitchell Moses and Nathan Brown.
While an extension beyond 2022 has been discussed for Moses, and another tabled to Brown, Matterson is also understood to be open to a new deal beyond next season, a prospect Parramatta are also happy to explore.
Round 2 - Norman and Doueihi return, Mansour makes way
Arthur is managed by the same agency as Matterson and Sivo and said he was unaware of any unrest around the 26-year-old forward's future.
"We want Matto to stay. I didn't know any of that," Arthur said leading into Thursday's heavyweight stoush with Melbourne.
"Matto is more than comfortable here. He's comfortable in the environment that we've put around him, he likes the playing group.
"At the end of the day players have got to do what's best for them.
"But I'm sure Matto knows what's best for him is to stay here."
Arthur said he would wait until after the Bankwest clash with the Storm to discuss Matterson's future with him.
The Eels junior excelled in his return to Parramatta last season after an ugly exit from Wests Tigers.
While the reasons for Matterson's fall-out with the Tigers have never been fully explained publicly, that contract saga, along with several others, have prompted the NRL to explore contract reform around trade windows and transfer negotiations.
NRL Round-Up - Round 1
"Not today or tomorrow, we've got a game to worry about. I might have a chat to him about it next week," Arthur said.
"I'm sure if he wants to talk to me about it he will, but I'm more than comfortable that Ryan wants to stay at the club.
"We're happy with the squad that we've got. It's hard to keep everyone but that's the goal."
What will be the result in this Telstra Premiership clash?
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