As NRL News released information around Feleti Mateo and his possible move away from the Eels next year, media outlets pounced on the Parramatta club and CEO Paul Osborne to get additional information around the ball playing star.
Will Mateo be leaving? Is this just a rumour?
At this stage, take it as absolute gospel - Feleti Mateo wants out of the Parramatta Eels as early as possible. While the talented star has a year remaining on his contract, he has told family and insiders at the Bulldogs that he would happily join the club if a release could be secured from Parramatta.
Out of luck during 2009, the pressure poured on Mateo at the start of the year when he was thrown the pivot role following Jarryd Hayne moving to fullback - was a telling blow. Shortly after, Mateo suffered a serious injury and was forced out for 12 weeks. On top of this, it seems the style of new coach Daniel Anderson may not be 100% suited to Mateo; while this cannot be confirmed - it seems to be another factor in the overall scheme of things.
While the Eels continue to insist that Mateo won’t be released, a player not happy is sure to provide a pain point for the in-form club. There is no doubting the ability of Feleti, however he is a genuine star and cannot be left in the background playing park football. Adding to the pressure is the size of the contract being paid to Mateo, the Eels have recruited well for 2010 and will no doubt have some salary cap pressure.
Offloading Mateo would solve that problem very quickly.
So at this stage, unless Mateo returns and supremely enjoys his time on the football field - you will almost certainly see him leave Parramatta at years end.
It seems that the resurgent Parramatta Eels club are not only playing for their 2009 NRL survival and finals quest, they are also playing for the chance to keep the talented Mateo at their club for 2010. If things go well, Mateo might be only too keen to take another year in the Golden West.
It seems Eels drawcard Feleti Mateo is all but stitched up with the Bulldogs for 2010 and beyond; with sources suggesting the talented Parramatta player having inked a deal but it’s being kept under wraps until the years end.
Injured for several weeks now, Mateo is fit and available for selection in the Eels side but has been again overlooked by coach Daniel Anderson.
While talk of Mateo linking with the Bulldogs simmered down some weeks ago - some sources are suggesting that Mateo has indeed linked with the Bulldogs but is keeping the deal under wraps given his situation with the Eels and their strong run to the 2009 NRL finals.
With salary cap pressure for 2010, the Parramatta club were looking to free up some much needed money and apparently Mateo and coach Anderson aren’t on the best of terms, with insiders suggesting the injured star has returned well overweight and is training below what the new coach has expected.
It would certainly be a frustrating position for the Eels playmaker, a deadset superstar only 18 months ago - he has struggled to capture peak form this year and after riding the low ebb of losses in early rounds, he has had to sit on the sidelines as the side continued from strength to strength.
Parramatta have signed Justin Poore at around $350,000 per season, Shane Shackleton at around $200,000 per season and Timana Tahu at around $250,000 per season for next year; and have also managed to keep hold of Jarryd Hayne for an estimated $475,000 per year.
That kind of splurge ensures that the likes of Mateo are on the outter, regardless of remaining contract and even club stalwarts such as Nathan Cayless are under intense pressure to keep their form - with the club captain on a reported $325,000 per season.
Signings aside, the clash this Friday night with the in-form Wests Tigers looks to be the match up of the year. Finals aside, both these sides have hit peak form at the business end of the season. Each side can score some amazing tries and both look to their key men in Benji Marshall and Jarryd Hayne.
However, this match will be won and lost in the forwards - with the crucial early points up the centre to be fought out by Pommie Gareth Ellis and the Eels Nathan Hindmarsh.
Buckle up, expect a big crowd and get set for a massive game this Friday night.
A COFFEE with his new boss has reaffirmed to Feleti Mateo that he will not be allowed to leave Parramatta at the end of the season, while another meeting with his coach is today expected to confirm whether his short-term future is back in first grade.
Eels coach Daniel Anderson is believed to have assured Mateo that he would tell him whether he would be returned to the high-flying NRL side today ahead of their much-anticipated clash with Wests Tigers at the SFS tomorrow night.
Mateo has been unable to break back into the NRL squad since suffering a biceps injury and is known to have been frustrated by his inability to do so - to the point where he has wondered whether he has a future at the club.
New Parramatta chief executive Paul Osborne, though, said he told the gifted 25-year-old this week that he would at least see out the final year of his contract with the club.
'' made it abundantly clear that he's wanted and any ideas he has of leaving he should remove immediately from his mind,'' Osborne said. ''We've won five in a row and conceded zero points and scored 4000, so it's very difficult to break into a side like that.''
Anderson said yesterday Mateo was ''definitely in contention'' but that Daniel Mortimer and Jeff Robson would be his halves pairing. ''He is definitely different to any other player we have,'' Anderson said of Mateo. ''The challenge for Feleti from when he went out of the team injured and coming back in is he's going to be a supporting, contributory member of the team.
''Jarryd [Hayne] is basically the franchise player, the go-to man, whereas maybe in the last 18 months it's been Feleti who's been the go-to man.''
A player who certainly cannot claim to be feeling unloved is Hayne, who is edging closer to a new deal. Osborne said he was optimistic of re-signing arguably the NRL's form player after his contract expires at the end of next year.
''I spoke to his manager during the week and said to him, 'Mate, hurry up, it's just costing me a fortune every time he plays,''' Osborne said. ''Hopefully we can get something done before the end of the season.''
Elsewhere, Melbourne forward Matt Cross has been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering medial ligament damage to his knee in Monday night's loss to Newcastle.
Jimmy Banaghan appears each Friday morning on radio live and he is entertaining. He also claims that there is no bad blood with the current Warriors management.
...so it has to be bye bye Lillyman. Where does that leave MATEO then i.e. - 6 good players for 3 starting positions?