NRL Pre-Season - Knights v Eels
GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 17: Josh Hodgson of the Eels passes during the NRL Trial Match between the Newcastle Knights and the Parramatta Eels at Central Coast Stadium on February 17, 2023 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The Parramatta Eels are reportedly eyeing off the surprise acquisition of Wests Tigers back up dummy half Jake Simpkin for the remainder of the 2023 season.

A former junior Queensland player, Simpkin has failed to hit his high potential at the Tigers thus far in the NRL, and has often played second fiddle throughout his career to this point, whether that be behind Jacob Liddle prior to this year, or now behind New South Wales representative star Apisai Koroisau, who made the switch to the club from the Penrith Panthers this year.

While he did start in the absence of Koroisau in recent weeks with the NSW star out injured, he has been relegated back to the bench since his return, and has a pair of young guns in Tallyn Da Silva and Rua Ngatikaura snapping at his heels for those minutes.

He is off-contract at the end of 2024 and would need the Tigers' blessing to leave early, but there could be a conceivable chance of that happening given the Tigers' depth, and the fact News Corp reported the Eels could be interested in a surprise immediate switch.

The Eels confirmed last week that Hodgson's neck injury has ended his season, and while the English veteran will remain at the club next season with an option in his deal, the Eels are undoubtedly looking for more options in the number nine.

Brendan Hands has been something of a breakout star this year, but the blue and gold don't want to head into the finals with the youngster as their only option in the number nine.

That's where Simpkin could come into the side, splitting duties with Hands and adding plenty of spark around the ruck.

Simpkin, 21, is viewed as a long-term project at the Tigers and already has more than 30 NRL appearances under his belt to go with a single game for the Prime Minister's XIII.

Parramatta will need to move quickly if they want to complete the deal, with the NRL's transfer market for immediate moves closing in early August.

Should Simpkin remain at the Tigers for the remainder of this year, he will be able to begin negotiations with rival clubs for 2025 from November 1 this year.