Timana Tahu could make a shock return for the Parramatta Eels this season. It has been revealed that Eels officials have spoken about the possibility of offering a lifeline to the NSW and Australian centre.
Tahu’s tenure at the club appeared over when he requested additional time off over the pre-season. The 30-year-old was affected by two racial vilification controversies and wasn’t ready to rejoin his teammates. The Eels have been sympathetic in their dealings with Tahu but it was thought the parties amicably parted company in December.
However, Eels officials contacted Tahu’s management during the week to gauge whether the dual international would consider a return. The club has recruited outside backs Chris Walker, Paul Whatuira, Chris Hicks and Jordan Atkins. And while young Jacob Loko is viewed as a potential first-grader this year, there are still concerns about the depth in the backline following the retirement of Eric Grothe and the absence of Tahu.
It is understood that Tahu could be given a second chance if he proves that he is physically and mentally ready to rejoin the Eels. However, it’s a sensitive situation for club officials. They would like to see a popular member of the club return and fulfil his potential.
Incoming coach Stephen Kearney is determined to instil discipline – and the players have been put through their most gruelling pre-season in years – so officials want him to be totally committed if he returns to the fold.
The former Waratah and Wallaby is considering the opportunity.
At his best, Tahu is one of the most damaging centres in the game. His strike rate of 107 tries from 160 NRL appearances for Newcastle and Parramatta remains one of the best in the competition. And while the Eels have plenty of money – more than $500,000 under the salary cap – there are few remaining three-quarter options on the market so close to season kick-off. When relations with Parramatta seemingly broke down, Tahu was linked with his former club. However, the Knights have no intention of pursuing him.
The situation leaves Tahu at the crossroads and he is yet to comment publicly on whether he intends to play again.