No certainty of Reni Maitua return with Eels

WILL KNIGHT
Last updated 14:15 08/06/2013

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Reni Maitua's immediate future at Parramatta remains uncertain with Eels coach Ricky Stuart not guaranteeing his return next weekend.

After being told on Wednesday he's free to find another NRL club despite having another year to run on his contract, Maitua pulled out of Friday night's clash with the Sydney Roosters.

Parramatta fought back valiantly to within two points of the lead with 10 minutes left but conceded two late tries to lose 38-24.

Hooker Matt Keating, back-rower Matt Ryan, five-eighth Luke Kelly and utility Pat O'Hanlon faced the Roosters after being among the 11 players told they're not wanted next season.

But a stung Maitua chose to sit out following a chat with Stuart following a "deep conversation".

While Stuart expects Maitua to return to training, he conceded the back-rower is not certain to come back into the squad for next Saturday's clash with his former club Cronulla if he's not in the right frame of mind.

"At this stage, I can't see why not (he'll play)," said Stuart.

"I'll sit down and have a chat with him and see where he's at.

"It's no good playing if you don't have your heart in it. And Reni is an honest guy - he'll let me know where he's at and how he's feeling."

Maitua turns 31 next week and is faced with the decision whether to put his hand up to battle the Sharks, where in 2009 he tested positive for a prohibited substance and was banned for two years.

Stuart said he felt for the players affected by the massive clean-out but difficult calls to improve the side's fortunes were part and parcel of being a first-grade coach.

Eels prop Tim Mannah was proud of his players' efforts against the Roosters after a difficult 48 hours.

But he also conceded that a bit of pain to try to create a winning culture was necessary at the Eels, last year's wooden spooners who will go bottom if Wests Tigers beat Penrith on Sunday.

"It's obviously a tough thing to go through but I thought they handled it very well and put in a great performance," said Mannah.

"The process is always tough but the end result is a place we want to all be as players."

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- AAP

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