NRL fans were left stunned on Tuesday afternoon when the Gold Coast Titans swooped to secure the signature of now-former Brisbane Broncos outside back Jamayne Isaako.

For all money, Isaako was set to join the Parramatta Eels before he links up on a new deal with the Dolphins from 2023 to be in their inaugural squad under Wayne Bennett.

In the end, not wanting to relocate his family and having the Titans show interest meant Isaako elected to stay in the southeast corner of Queensland, leaving Eels fans frustrated at missing out on a player who could have become a key for the club for the remainder of the 2022 season.

The Eels are currently in a backline depth crisis. It's one which has been partly brought on by themselves, but has been made all the worse by a pair of injuries during the pre-season trials and opening round.

In bringing it on themselves, the club simply didn't recruit in an area they were already short in last year. The blue and gold managed to sign Bailey Simonsson from the Canberra Raiders at the back end of the pre-season but lost Blake Ferguson and Michael Oldfield during the off-season.

That wouldn't have been the end of the world, but they were already significantly short on backline depth in 2021.

More players exiting than arriving is never a way to fix that sort of problem, and left the club looking at Maika Sivo and Haze Dunster as their two top wingers this year.

Sivo though is missing the first half of the year as he recovers from injury, which forced the club to act, signing Bailey Simonsson.

Simonsson was to slot straight into the side alongside Haze Dunster, which meant that, while their depth wasn't ideal, it was passable with Sean Russell in the background, as well as youngsters Samuel Loizou and Solomone Naiduki.

Waqa Blake and Tom Opacic can also be considered for wing positions, and with Will Penisini breaking out at the end of last year, it meant there was a player spare for the two positions, although it could hardly be considered an ideal situation.

But then the injuries struck. Dunster's season was ended in the first pre-season trial by a Tyrell Fuimaono hip drop tackle which injured his ACL, PCL and MCL.

That brought Russell into the team, and he set the world on fire during Round 1 for all of 33 minutes, scoring a hat-trick before being collected by Jayden Campbell's knees which left him in hospital with a punctured lung and fractured ribs.

NRL Rd 1 - Eels v Titans

He may make it back on the field this year, but it certainly won't be anytime soon.

Coach Brad Arthur was then forced to scramble, making the decision to move Waqa Blake out wide and bring Tom Opacic into the side, with only Solomone Naiduki and Samuel Loizou in the background, neither having much in the way of NRL experience and both still likely too raw to be pushed into the NRL at this early stage.

So dire is it at Parramatta that another injury would likely force Marata Niukore - who is set to play his first game of the season in Round 3 - out to the centres. That or Hayze Perham could come into the side

It's why Isaako's signing was almost imperative for the club, but alas, they failed to make the move as the Titans swooped in to add to their overloaded backline stocks which already include Corey Thompson, Greg Marzhew and Phillip Sami among other youngsters.

But now that they have missed out on Isaako, the question has to be asked - where do they turn next?

They can't simply continue to play through the season without another option for replacement, given Sivo is the next man due back from injury and still more than two months away.

The club simply must act now, whether that be a short-term loan from another club, a promotion from inside their own or signing an out of favour player.

The easiest option, should they need it, would be to promote Zac Cini into first-grade. The former Tiger bounced to the Sharks during the off-season on a train and trial deal, before winding up in Parramatta's NSW Cup side.

The talented youngster has struggled to break into first-grade, but has plenty of talent and could do the job in the short-term before Sivo's return if the blue and gold need it.

The harder, but arguably better option, is to find an option from another club.

Given the current coronavirus situation, clubs would appear, on the surface at least, unlikely to release players who could be needed throughout the year unless it makes business sense for them long-term, as letting Isaako go did for the Broncos.

However, a short term loan until Sivo returns - let's say Round 12 - could be the way for the Eels to fix the problem in the short-term.

It would likely need a clause for an immediate recall if coronavirus strikes the loaning club, but for now, it could be the way for the Eels to get a fix which will tide them over.

And there are plenty of options around the competition who could be up for grabs given their lack of playing time to start the year as well with the ability to play wing or in the outside backs. It's an option which simply could work for both the loaning club and the Eels.

Xavier Savage from the Raiders, Corey Allan from the Bulldogs, Mawene Hiroti at the Sharks, Edrick Lee from the Knights, Edward Kosi from the Warriors, Brendan Elliott from the Cowboys, Christian Crichton from the Panthers, Mathew Feagai or Tautau Moga from the Dragons and Starford To'a from the Tigers are the names which immediately come to mind as those not currently playing, but who could do a more than serviceable job at the blue and gold.

NRL Rd 18 - Raiders v Sharks

Others like Sosefo Fifita or Alofiana Khan-Pereira at the Titans, Tui Katoa at the Bulldogs, Will Warbrick from the Storm, Laitia Moceidreke from the Cowboys are also in need of playing time, but from an Eels perspective, there may be no point in having them ahead of Naiduki or Loizou in the queue.

While it's hard to see any clubs releasing any of those players to sign a longer-term deal with the Eels, a player like Lee or Hiroti could well be up for grabs as a backline depth option without the loan part being included.

The Eels don't need to be told this, but the next nine weeks are currently set for disaster if they can't make waves by bringing a player into the club.

They are already scraping the bottom of the barrel.

One more injury and they are scrapping right through the bottom of it and out the other side.

Whether a loan, a signing or the promotion of Cini, the club must make a move - and soon.