Paul Whatuira
Contract official

The Parramatta Eels are poised to sign former New Zealand centre Paul Whatuira as the club tries to rebound from the departures of Timana Tahu and Eric Grothe.

After losing a host of players from their 2010 squad, culminating in the expected departure of Tahu and the retirement of Grothe, the Eels this week signed former Manly winger Chris Hicks, who had been playing at Warrington.

Whatuira agreed to a one-year deal yesterday – with an option in the Eels’ favour for 2012 – and will formally sign with the club subject to a medical on Monday. The dual premiership winner was set to retire after a three-year stint with Super League club Huddersfield before a meeting with new Eels coach Stephen Kearney, a former teammate, gave him an NRL lifeline.

Alongside Whatuira, the Eels have also offered a lifeline to another experienced outside back, Chris Walker. Both will be gambles on Kearney’s part. Kearney decided to take the punt on Whatuira, who won premierships in 2003 and 2005 with Penrith and Wests Tigers respectively, after talks on Tuesday. Whatuira made his Test debut in 2004 alongside Kearney and was a club teammate at Melbourne in 2001.

Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald