The race to coach the Parramatta Eels next season is down to five candidates, with one of the favourites ruling himself out of potentially receiving the role.

Earlier this week, the list of candidates to replace Brad Arthur as a full-time coach was shortened to six: Josh Hannay, Michael Maguire, Jason Ryles, Trent Barrett, Michael Cheika, and Brian McDermott.

However, that has now been shortened to five, with one of them pulling out of the race.

Jim Sarantinos, the CEO of the Parramatta Eels, confirmed to News Corp that NSW Blues coach Michael Maguire has ruled himself out of contention for the top coaching gig.

Instead, he will focus on coaching the NSW Blues in State of Origin, where he is contracted for the 2024 and 2025 Origin series.

“We reached out to Madge (Maguire) post Origin I regarding his interest in the head coaching job at the Eels and he shared that his sole focus is on the NSW Origin team,” Sarantinos told the publication.

“We respect his position but our process will continue and therefore he will not be part of it moving forward.”

It is understood that meetings between the Eels and the candidates will begin this week.

NRL Rd 4 - Eels v Panthers
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Eels assistant coach Trent Barrett looks on before the round four NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and Penrith Panthers at CommBank Stadium on March 23, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

As Maguire pulls out of the race, interim coach Trent Barrett is hoping to remain as the Eels head coach beyond the conclusion of this season.

“I didn't want to say too much the first few weeks. It's always a hard one when you're very close to the head coach and there's movement there,” Barrett told 2GB radio.

“But we've all got to move forward as well and it's something that I've really enjoyed.

“Parramatta is a really good club, it's a very stable club and we've got a good side. I've found this experience completely different to the last two I've had. I'm in a good position where I'm there, in the shop window every day with the powers that be.

“But it's certainly going to help if we can continue winning games.

“I'd love an opportunity to coach them long-term, but that's a little bit out of my control, I suppose.

“If we go out and keep winning, that will help. But, my main focus is the players. I've just got to get them to win this week and prepare them as best we can.”