Parramatta club captain Tim Mannah says no man is bigger than the Eels – even his superstar best mate Jarryd Hayne.
Mannah had lunch with Hayne on Monday and admits his code-hopping former teammate asked him when the Eels were going to make an offer.
Mannah, though, says while it may be disappointing for fans that Hayne won’t be returning to Parramatta any time soon, the embattled Eels are intent on building a club and team “that’s sustainable for the future” rather than splashing out for one player.
“Gold Coast have offered him a very big sum and one thing we’ve learnt at the club is one player isn’t bigger than the club,” Mannah said after Hayne’s announcement on Wednesday that he was joining rival NRL club the Titans.
Mannah admitted he relayed Hayne’s quest for an offer to Eels officials and thought it “kind of got the wheels moving a bit quicker to get something to him”.
But he said with all the upheavals at the club in 2016 it was always going to be tough to secure Hayne’s services.
“We don’t have a head of football at the moment,” Mannah said.
“We have a CEO now but there was a little period there where we didn’t have a lot of leadership that could have made the right calls.
“But whether or not we had people there, it might not have changed anything anyway.
“I don’t know if we would have gone down that path of throwing that kind of money around.
“It’s all done now so there’s no point us crying over split milk.
“He’s made the decision that’s best for him. He’s a grown man and he’s got to look after himself.
“At the same time, Parra, we want to look after ourselves as well.
“It would have been nice to have him at Parra but he’s looked after himself and it’s a good chance for the club to kind of take a step back, look at what position we’re in now.
“We’ve got a bit of space to work with and a bit of money to spend and we can go ahead and build a team we want to build.”
Mannah said he understood Hayne’s urgency to seal a deal.
“He’s got a chance to play some finals footy this year,” he said.
“And I guess if you wanted to have a crack at that, you’d have to get it done pretty quick.”