Oregon Kaufusi is set to leave the Eels. Picture: Brett Costello
Oregon Kaufusi is set to leave the Eels. Picture: Brett Costello

Tardy Eels set to lose another HUGE talent

For years Parramatta fans have become more and more fed-up watching some of their best local talent turn into NRL stars at rival clubs.

And in what looks like a case of history repeating, the Eels are again in danger of dropping the ball on several fronts.

Just days after losing boom prop Stefano Utoikamanu to Wests Tigers, the uncertain future of fellow front-row prospect Oregon Kaufusi is causing huge concern.

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Two of the club's elite youngsters have also signed with other clubs. SG Ball ­captain Trey Mooney has agreed to a three-year deal with Can­berra, while ­Australian Schoolboy halfback Tyler Field has also been poached by the ­Tigers.

The Daily Telegraph has been told Kaufusi, 20, is on the radar of several clubs, mainly because the Eels have been dragging their feet during contract negotiations.

As with the Utoikamanu situation, Kaufusi is not off contract until the end of next season but given he is free to negotiate, it is probably no great surprise rival clubs are showing interest.

The Eels have been big spenders in the transfer market in recent months, ­securing Ryan Matterson from the ­Tigers and Reagan Campbell-Gillard from Penrith.

 

Oregon Kaufusi is considered a future star. Picture: Brett Costello
Oregon Kaufusi is considered a future star. Picture: Brett Costello

But some question the wisdom of not showing greater motivation to look after their own backyard given some mistakes from the past.

You just have to go through some of the names the Eels have let slip over the years, including Paul Gallen, David Klemmer, Luke Keary, James Maloney and Daniel Tupou, among others.

Prop Mooney is another outstanding forward prospect who was made SG Ball captain despite being a year younger than most of his teammates.

While the NSW under-18s representative is still a couple of years off being ready for the NRL, Mooney is said to be as impressive off the field as he is on it and shows tremendous leadership qualities.

 

Stefano Utoikamanu has left the Eels for the Tigers.
Stefano Utoikamanu has left the Eels for the Tigers.

The Raiders thought so highly of Mooney that Ricky Stuart has decided to give him a shot at training with the NRL squad over summer to fast-track his development.

Field is a five-eighth who has drawn comparisons with South Sydney's Damien Cook because of his style of play after being shifted into dummy half this year.

It is said Kaufusi wants to remain at Parramatta playing under Brad Arthur but so far it seems the club's management has been in no rush to get a deal done.

Like Utoikamanu, Kaufusi has come through the grades at the Eels and it would be a terrible setback to lose him just when it appears his career is about to hit the big time.

Kaufusi has had 10 NRL appearances but many believe he has the talent and determination to carve out a long career in the competition.