Willie Tonga could announce his signing for the Parramatta Eels within days after his other NRL suitors, the Cronulla Sharks, conceded they had all but given up hope of snaring the Cowboys centre.
Tonga said yesterday he would finalise his future this week, possibly before North Queensland’s clash against the Broncos on Friday night at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Originally tipped to follow his brother Esi to the Eels next season, Tonga was forced to weigh up his options when the Sharks expressed interest in the Queensland Origin flyer.
But Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan said he expected Tonga, who turned 28 yesterday, to be wearing a blue and gold jumper next season.
Tonga, who was granted a release for 2012 by the Cowboys a fortnight ago, said he was close to revealing his new club.
But the premiership-winning centre gave the strongest indication yet he would end up at the Eels, saying it was a long-held goal to play alongside his brother.
“I’m expecting to announce something this week,” he said. “I’m leaving it to my manager and hopefully it will be sorted this week. There’s a couple of clubs interested, so I’ll see what the best fit is for me.
“If I was to go to the Eels it would be a dream to play alongside my brother in the NRL. That’s a big thing if I was to go to Parra, but we’ll see what happens in the next week or so.”