Parramatta Eels set to drop another star
Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney concedes the Eels' much-hyped off-season recruitment drive has failed to live up to expectations.
With the club mired at the bottom of the NRL ladder, Kearney is toying with idea of dropping the third of his big three signings to feeder club Wentworthville - with former Test centre Willie Tonga named on an extended bench for Sunday's game against Manly.
His place in the NRL seemingly depends on Jarryd Hayne surviving Wednesday night's State of Origin decider.
''I haven't 100 per cent made my mind up in terms of the make-up of the side with Willie as yet,'' Kearney said on Wednesday.
''We're fortunate with Ryan Morgan, Cheyse Blair and Willie ... we've got some pretty handy players that can play in those positions.
''One of them probably will have to (miss out) unless something, which I'm hoping not, happened to Jarryd tonight - we'll just have to wait and see.''
Tonga was part of a recruiting class Kearney hoped would return the Eels back to the playoffs.
The arrival of Ben Roberts and $550,000 man Chris Sandow was supposed to take some of the pressure off Hayne, but the trio struggled to gel.
Former Canterbury playmaker Roberts is playing in the NSW Cup following the mid-season acquisition of Melbourne youngster Luke Kelly, while Sandow has also had a spell with Wentworthville.
''It's been a challenge in that sense - in Willie's circumstance he's spent a lot of the year out with injury,'' Kearney said.
''Things haven't gone to what we probably would have liked.
''I think the last month of footy we've seen some progress from Chris which has been a real positive.
''That's our focus, making sure we get those guys on board and up to speed with what we're after.''