Eels fighting for new NRL deals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels fighting for new NRL deals

By David Beniuk 26/01/2010 06:04:23 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta captain Nathan Cayless says the Eels will take an extra edge into the 2010 NRL season because of several stars they have coming off contract.

The 2009 runners-up and this season's premiership favourites have big names like Cayless himself, Daniel Mortimer, Feleti Mateo, Krisnan Inu, Eric Grothe and Luke Burt all coming to the end of their deals with the club this year.

Competition for first grade spots is already red hot at the Eels with the arrival of Timana Tahu, Justin Poore and Shane Shackleton, but former New Zealand skipper Cayless said that would only intensify with players looking to earn new contracts.

"Obviously we've got a good group together, we went through a lot last season, a lot of ups and downs," Cayless told AAP on Tuesday.

"When all players are off-contract they seem to play really well and it's a bit of a spur on to play as well as you can to get another contract.

"So I suppose it's a real positive for us that we've got a few guys off-contract, they're going to be looking to play their best footy."

Cayless, who turns 32 in March and was recently guaranteed the Eels' captaincy by coach Daniel Anderson, includes himself in that group, but is reluctant to discuss his negotiations with the club after speculation last year that he was unwanted.

"I'm just trying to work as hard as I can in the pre-season and make sure I start the season off well," he said.

Asked when he'd like to have his future sorted out, he said: "I just have to see how it goes."

Burt has ruled out a move overseas and is desperate to stay at Parramatta.

"(We're) just looking at it at the moment," the 29-year-old said.

"I'd like to have it nutted by the start of the season hopefully, but if that doesn't pan out I'd like to get something knocked over pretty quick.

"The No.1 goal's staying at Parra."

In the meantime, the Eels will fight it out for positions in the first grade side.

Tahu's arrival means one back will miss out, while Mortimer, Jeff Robson and Kris Keating will fight for two halves positions and Cayless could see changes to his rotation with new prop Justin Poore's signing.

"The way that Daniel Mortimer and Jeff Robson finished the season off, the way they played, they deserve to start the season off there and they've been training there," Cayless said.

Meanwhile Burt, the most prolific point-scorer among current NRL players after Hazem El Masri's retirement, is hoping to etch his name into the record books with a season-high tally in 2010.

"Everyone would love to," he said.

"Hazem was a great for that many years, he was leading point-scorer for the majority of years he played footy so I'd love to get the prestige of getting the top point-scorer."

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