PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 17: Reed Mahoney of the Eels passes during the round one NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at Panthers Stadium on March 17, 2019 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The Parramatta Eels have begun their search to replace hooker Reed Mahoney, and a left-field link seems to be the most likely option.

With Brandon Smith expected to move to the Sydney Roosters in the coming days, it will leave Sam Verrills - once touted the future of the Roosters' number nine jersey - out in the open and possibly looking for a new club.

There is no question Verrills is good enough to be a starting number nine in this competition, and would walk into numerous teams' starting 13s.

The Gold Coast Titans, New Zealand Warriors and Manly Sea Eagles are all using stop-gap measures at dummy half, but it's the Eels who have now been linked to Verrills.

With Reed Mahoney set to link up with the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2023, it will create a vacancy in Sydney's west, with Brad Arthur reportedly a fan of Verrills.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 31: Sam Verrills of the Roosters celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round 24 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Penrith Panthers at Sydney Cricket Ground on August 31, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Daily Telegraph are reporting that, even though Verrills is contracted until the end of 2024 - two years after Smith is set to arrive - the Roosters may not stand in his way if he was to request a release due to being displaced as the side's starting dummy half.

It's well known a big part of the reason Smith is set to exit the Victorian capital is because he wants an assurance regarding being a starting dummy half, and with Harry Grant in the system, that's something which can't be guaranteed in Craig Bellamy's side.

It seemed odd for that reason that Smith would view the Roosters as his first choice given Verrills is in the system, but if he has, it can almost be guaranteed Trent Robinson has promised Smith the starting role.

The 22-year-old importantly wouldn't break the bank for the Eels should they manage to sign him from 2023 onwards, with the Eels' salary cap in a squeeze.

Already the club have lost Isaiah Papali'i and Marata Niukore, to go with the reported departure of Reed Mahoney, while Junior Paulo's future seemingly is hanging in the balance.

It means a cheap option to replace Mahoney could be at the top of the priority list for Parramatta, and Verrills would fill that description while still being an excellent option in the number nine.

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