Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
The Parramatta Eels have officially filled a couple of holes in their side, with Bailey Simonsson coming into their ranks next season to replace Blake Ferguson and England International hooker Josh Hodgson replacing Reed Mahoney at the Eels in 2023.
However, they still have to fill the huge void that will be left in their second row by Marata Niukore who is off to the Warriors, and Isaiah Papali’i who is off to the Tigers at the end of next season.
Parramatta will likely look within and promote a current player to the starting side to replace either Niukore or Papali’i, for example, Shaun Lane, but are going to need an experienced NRL player to join them in the second row.
It seems the Eels have realised this as The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie is reporting that the club is targeting out-of-favour Dragons player Tariq Sims.
— Dean Ritchie (@BulldogRitchie) December 9, 2021
“The Daily Telegraph has been told by multiple sources that the Eels have a genuine interest in Sims, who comes off contract at St George Illawarra after this coming season,” said Ritchie.
“Parramatta has manoeuvring room in its salary cap for 2023.
“No deal has been struck and it remains unknown whether Parramatta has lodged an offer but there is a strong temptation to negotiate with Sims.
“The Dragons don’t want to lose Sims but told the rampaging forward late last season that the club wasn’t in a position to lodge an offer after his current contract expired.
“While unconfirmed, Sims has been previously linked with Wests Tigers, Sydney Roosters, Melbourne, North Queensland, Brisbane, Souths and Penrith, along with English Super League clubs.”
Sims had a strong 2021, returning to the New South Wales State of Origin side that won the series 2-1 and proved to be one of the Dragons’ most consistent players in a very up and down season for the Red V.
The 31-year-old was understandably shocked when the Dragons informed him at the end of last season that they would not be extending his contract beyond 2022.
If the Eels can secure Sims services for 2023, then they will have a short-term solution for their lack of talent in the second row but must have a long-term plan in place once he leaves.