With the return of Jarryd Hayne now officially confirmed by the Parramatta Eels, it’s time to separate fact from conjecture; and perhaps the greatest conjecture surrounds the following question:
Have the Eels sacrificed other signings for Hayne’s contract?
The answer is a resounding no.
Coming out of the 2017 season, the Eels were one of the few clubs to have significant space in their salary cap. This has been no mean feat. Following the dramas of 2016, the Eels have transformed as a club under the guidance of Brad Arthur, with an emphasis placed on value for money. It helps to have a culture that’s attractive to the current roster, along with a highly respected coaching staff and a team on the rise. When players want to play for the club, you’re not shelling out above market value contracts typical of desperate teams (the Eels were previously no strangers to that predicament).
With only Kane Evans signed during the season proper, this astute cap management meant that the Eels were cashed up.
It’s my understanding that even after the signing of Hayne, the club will be left with enough cap space for another quality signing.
You don’t need to be around Rugby League for long to know that this is strategically important!
Every year, NRL players are forced onto the marketplace, either just before the season kicks off or during the season proper. If we consider the last couple of years, in 2016 the Eels picked up Michael Jennings in January and this year it was Mitchell Moses in May.
In order to secure such talent you need money in the bank. Well, you can take it to the bank that the Eels will be in that position in 2018. It’s impossible to know what players will become available – or indeed what the roster needs will be. Whatever the case, Parramatta will be able to enter the market should they wish.
It’s also important to consider that some of the money remaining in the Eels cap is likely to be used to upgrade current contracts. Players that have proven to be value for money have definitely deserved a financial reward.
As for what version of Jarryd we will see, take your cue from this signing being under Parramatta’s terms. Hayne wanted to return to the Eels, he’s happily accepted the club’s offer and he’s looking to re-establish himself as an elite NRL player. He won’t be joining the club on elite money. There is a new order at the club. With friends still in the squad, he’ll undoubtedly be warmly welcomed. There’s a culture, a locker room presence, that sets and drives high standards at the Eels. He’ll need to meet them. No exceptions, and he won’t be expecting any either.
The Parramatta team is a vastly different beast to the one that was over-reliant on Hayne as its sole marquee player. The Plane will be an important addition to a backline already bristling with talent – but he won’t be central to it.
And crucially, he won’t be any great burden on the Eels salary cap going forward.