Rival coaches Geoff Toovey and Brad Arthur have launched behind-the-scenes powerplays in desperate bids for the services of NRL superstar Kieran Foran.
Foran’s future remains up in the air due to his contract imbroglio at Parramatta, with Eels mentor Arthur moving to assure the Kiwi international his club is a place where he can play his best football.
However, in the same way they deftly manoeuvred to prise Daly Cherry-Evans back from Gold Coast’s clutches, Manly have also launched a counter-attack to keep Foran.
Sea Eagles coach Toovey revealed on Thursday he had been in talks with his five-eighth to keep him at Brookvale.
“I have spoken to him, he has to settle those issues with his management and that may leave the door open for him to stay here,” Toovey said.
“His contract with Parramatta appeared set in place but, obviously, things have changed.
“We always hoped to retain both halves, a lot of effort and resources has gone into making sure both players mature and we would love to see him stay.”
But Arthur was also on the front foot on Thursday in an interview on Triple M, claiming the situation at Parramatta was not as bad as had been made out.
Arthur believes Foran remains keen on joining the Eels, despite their move to change the terms of the four-year $4.8 million deal he signed more than three months ago.
“The reasons why he wanted to come to our club haven’t changed,” Arthur said.
“I don’t think he’s ever changed his mind about coming to the club. He just needed to reassess or rethink one of the biggest decisions in his life.
“I know there were some contractual issues that have been sorted through and I’m confident – without getting ahead of ourselves – that Kieran still wants to join this football team.
“I have spoken to him and told him it’s not about me – he needs to do what’s best for himself. I think this is the best decision for him and I wouldn’t ask him to come to our club if I didn’t think it was the right decision and I didn’t think we could make it work.”
Arthur’s future at the Eels has come under scrutiny, but the former Manly assistant says he isn’t concerned by the speculation.
“People might think I’m naive, but they (Eels board and management) want me here to coach this team, and the players want me here to coach this team. It’s a simple answer.
“The picture painted of us is bleak but it’s not that bad.”
Speculation, too, surrounds Toovey’s future on the northern beaches beyond this year, with Trent Barrett continuing to be linked to the coaching gig at Brookvale.
Either way, Toovey is set to remain an influential figure at Brookvale beyond 2015.
But he said his focus was not on that ahead of Friday’s round-16 match with South Sydney.
“All I can do, like Kieran and the players can do, is play good football and win some matches and entertain the Manly fans and that is what we plan to do,” Toovey said.