The return of Blake Ferguson did not go to script but Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has not ruled out the prospect of the veteran winger extending his stay at the club.
However, Arthur says his main priority is getting the Eels back on track after their top-four hopes took a hit with their second loss in three games - a 12-10 nail-biter to Canberra on the Gold Coast.
Ferguson ran out on to Cbus Super Stadium on Thursday night with his 13-season career on the line after finally getting a call-up from Arthur.
The off contract 31-year-old had been battling a calf complaint but his six-week sideline stint had sparked reports he had fallen out with Arthur.
Either way, Ferguson had to make the most of his chance against the Raiders - and boy did he take it with both hands.
Ferguson back in the NRL and setting up spectacular tries
Dumped after round 12 due to defensive concerns, the former NSW flyer had clearly been working the tackle bags while biding his time, pulling off some stunning hits that typified the ferocious clash that was locked up at 0-0 at half-time.
But it was Ferguson's trademark flair in attack that threatened to turn the match on its ear.
After just holding onto a Matt Frawley kick in his own 20m, Ferguson skittled the defence and pinned his ears back before kicking ahead for five-eighth Dylan Brown to score in the 56th minute.
Match Highlights: Eels v Raiders
In the end Ferguson's comeback didn't have a happy ending after the Raiders held on.
But Arthur kept the door open for Ferguson to add a few more chapters to his Parramatta story.
He heaped rare praise on Ferguson who ran 162 metres, had four tackle busts and a line break while nursing what appeared to be a rib complaint suffered in the second half.
"He did well. He gassed out there a fair bit but he hadn't played for a while," Arthur said.
"Once he gets his second, third game back, gets his match fitness back he'll be right.
"But he did a good job, broke the game open for us a bit, gave us an opportunity with that good attitude towards the collision with his carry, that's what we needed more of."
It was encouraging feedback for Ferguson who had endured headlines during his sideline stint in the past month claiming his days at Parramatta were numbered.
Asked if Ferguson still had a lot to offer, Arthur said: "Yeah, he does."
Bunker clears final play as Raiders defence stands tall when they need it most
At the Eels? "Look, he just has to worry about keep playing well and then we will see what happens from there.
"Right now we need to get fixed up and be ready to go next week against a very physical team [Sydney Roosters]."
Parramatta are still in the top-four but are suddenly looking over their shoulder following Thursday's loss.
The fifth-placed Roosters can move within a win on the ladder this weekend before the two teams clash in what now looms as a crunch game next Thursday at Mackay's BB Print Stadium.
The season so far: Round 13-18
Parra also face arguably the toughest run home to the finals, taking on five of the top six teams in their last six fixtures, including Melbourne and Penrith in the final two rounds.
"It's going to be a test. Depending on where we get to, we're going to have to earn every bit of it," Arthur said.
"That [Canberra game] is the type of game we are going to get in finals footy, that's what we just talked about."
Arthur provides update on Moses
Arthur is still sweating on NSW playmaker Mitch Moses who may return from a back fracture as early as next week against the Roosters.
"He might be a week or two. It's hard to say. We'll just have to wait until next week when he runs and then we'll see from there," he said.
Interchange forward Marata Niukore is also under an injury cloud after damaging his right knee in the first half on Thursday night.