The Sydney Roosters are a strong chance of signing Dale Copley in a move that could gift superstar centre Michael Jennings to Parramatta.
The Eels have so far missed out in a centre silly season that has resulted in them losing Will Hopoate to Canterbury, Jamal Idris walking away from rugby league indefinitely, Dylan Walker joining Manly, Tim Lafai shifting from the Bulldogs to St George Illawarra, Delouise Hoeter being released by Wests Tigers and James Roberts swapping the Gold Coast for Brisbane after a contract forgery dispute.
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However, Fairfax Media can reveal the blue and golds could be the biggest winners in an unprecedented off-season for the movement of contracted players. While playing for the Penrith, Jennings famously said he hated everything western rivals Parramatta represented. Despite being contracted to the Roosters, the NSW and Australian centre could make a shock switch to the Eels.
While the Roosters would like to keep Jennings, they are trying to free up salary cap room that would be used for, among other things, ensuring the retention of in-demand forward Boyd Cordner. The Broncos are trying to offload Copley after snaring Roberts and the Roosters are hopeful of picking him up for about a third of the contract money that Jennings is on. The fact Brisbane may be prepared to pay part of Copley's freight could make the deal even more appealing, meaning Jennings could be squeezed out of a star-studded Roosters line-up. It is understood Cordner has recently changed management firms to join the same agency as Copley and Jennings.
The Eels are desperate for a centre after parting ways with Hopoate, with a dispute between the parties over a contract extension before the Supreme Court. Jennings is firmly on Parramatta's radar and could be the latest addition to coach Brad Arthur's team following the recruitment of Kieran Foran, Beau Scott, Michael Gordon and Clint Gutherson, Cameron King, Mitch Cornish, James Hasson, Kieran Moss, Rory O'Brien and Matthew Woods.
Should the parties come up with a deal, the biggest sticking point could be whether the NRL registers a Parramatta contract for Jennings given the uncertainty over whether the club will need to carry some of Hopoate's earnings under their salary cap.
Should the Eels land Jennings, Parramatta will boast perhaps the most fearsome left-side combination in the league. Semi Radradra was named the Dally M winger of the year, topping the tryscorers list with 24 despite missing several games through injury. The Fijian flyer would likely be even more potent with Jennings playing inside him, particularly if the new-look halves combination of Foran and Corey Norman gels.
Jennings has been an integral member of the Roosters line-up since transferring from the foot of the Blue Mountains in 2013. The 27-year-old has scored 44 tries in a stint that has netted the Tricolours a premiership and three minor premierships. He will turn 28 in April but has shown no signs of losing the blistering speed that has been his trademark throughout a 193-game NRL career. Should the transfer to Parramatta take place, it would be a massive coup for a club hoping to break a three-decade premiership drought and their odds for the 2016 season are likely to shorten.