The Parramatta Eels have locked up seven of their NRL young guns on long-term contracts and re-signed utility Taulima Tautai from the Cronulla Sharks.
Centres Jacob Loko and Ryan Morgan, backrower Taniela Lasalo, prop Mitchell Allgood and Tautai, who left the club in 2009, have all agreed deals that will keep them with the Eels until the end of 2013.
Talented Toyota Cup trio of Pat O’Hanlon, Marmin Barba, brother of Canterbury fullback Ben Barba, and Rory Brien have also signed two-year agreements.
Parramatta chief executive Paul Osborne said the signings were a direct result of the club’s commitment to retaining its best young players.
“We have a terrific junior representative program at the Eels and Steve Kearney is building our future around it,” Osborne said.
“The retention of our own players is an integral part of the football program and something we addressed as an area we needed to improve on at the start of this year.
“The decision from our young guys to stick with us is a great boost for the club and it’s another sign we are heading in the right direction.”
Eels skipper Nathan Hindmarsh said the players are among the best he has seen come through the club’s junior program.
“You see so many Parra juniors out there playing for other clubs and I know it’s something the fans sometimes get frustrated with, so for us to re-sign these young guys is a huge boost,” Hindmarsh said.
“Put them alongside our other experienced guys like Tim Mannah, Luke Burt, Ben Smith, Matt Keating, Jarryd Hayne and the new players joining us in Chris Sandow, Ben Roberts, Esi Tonga and now Taulima – it’s looking like a great mix.
“I’ve been playing for the Eels for a long time and I’ve seen a lot of great young players come through our system, and guys like Jacob Loko are right up there as the most talented I’ve seen.”