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.