Sonny Bill Williams has told close friends of his intention to relocate to Sydney in a year, dramatically shortening the odds of an NRL comeback.
The dual international has spent the majority of his free time in Sydney since last month’s successful World Cup campaign with the All Blacks, and resumed personal training in the eastern suburbs last week.
A source close to Williams said the 26-year-old had been seeking advice about where to settle in Sydney, indicating his interest in an NRL return is genuine.
Williams is close with Maitua and the pair have socialised on numerous occasions since the Rugby World Cup.
But the Eels’ chances could also hinge on the future of 32-year-old skipper Nathan Hindmarsh, whose deal also ends in 2012.
Should Hindmarsh retire – and a number of elder free agents, including Justin Poore, Fuifui Moimoi, Luke Burt and Ben Smith not be re-signed – Parramatta will loom as one of the biggest players in the 2013 market.