NRL Trial Match - Panthers v Sharks
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 20: J'maine Hopgood of the Panthers is tackled during the NRL Trial Match between the Penrith Panthers and the Cronulla Sharks at CommBank Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Penrith Panthers young gun J'maine Hopgood has signed a deal with the Parramatta Eels, however, the move has reportedly left the North Queensland Cowboys fuming.

Hopgood is rated as one of the best young talents in the game.

A lock forward who can also play at prop, the Hervey Bay-born young gun has played for the Queensland under-20s as part of his junior development, representing the state alongside a host of future stars like Ronaldo Mulitalo, Tesi Niu, Murray Taulagi, Braydon Trindall, Kobe Hetherington, Ethan Bullemor and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui.

The Cowboys' interest in Hopgood hadn't been reported, with it previously being mentioned that the Dolphins, Eels and Panthers were the three clubs in the race for his services.

But according to Wide World of Sports, Hopgood had all but signed with the North Queensland Cowboys for 2023 and beyond, having agreed to join the club on a "handshake deal."

He reported flipped on the idea of moving to Townsville though, instead joining the Parramatta Eels.

The move has reportedly left the Cowboys fuming with the 23-year-old, who has managed six first-grade games during his time with the Panthers, where he has been stuck behind a strong middle third roation led by Isaah Yeo, James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota, but also backed up by the likes of Matt Eisenhuth, Spencer Leniu and Scott Sorensen.

His form in the NSW Cup has been superb however across his nine appearances this year, and it's little surprise a race for his services broke out.

He is likely to find an almost immediate role at Parramatta, with the club losing Isaiah Papali'i (Wests Tigers), Ray Stone (Dolphins), Marata Niukore (New Zealand Warriors) and Reed Mahoney (Canterbury Bulldogs) for 2023, while Ryan Matterson's future also hangs in the balance.