Parramatta fans hopeful of seeing squad improvement during the offseason will have been pleased with the news that Isreal Folau is set to join the club. However, further news that the Eels are about to pluck Gareth Hock from Wigan Warriors may not appeal to fans so much.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald last week, Eels chief executive, Ken Edwards, said: “I can confirm we are in discussions only at this time.”
The signs are all there that Hock is about to fly Down Under, and pundits offering rugby tips online have argued that the forward is just what Parramatta need if they are to compete at the top of the NRL in 2013.
Indeed, Hock is a talented player; he did not qualify for the 2012 Super League Dream Team for nothing.
His forward play greatly aided Wigan’s surge to the Super League semi-finals this season and his recent performance for England against France makes him a surety to make Steve McNamara’s World Cup team next year.
However, accompanying Hock comes a lot of baggage, and what Parramatta do not need right now is an unsettled squad.
Hock has a fierce reputation as one of rugby league’s most aggressive players, pushing his game to the extreme. Last year, he served a four-match suspension for eye gouging and was banned for two years in 2009 for testing positive to cocaine.
The forward is one of the most likely players to find himself in the sin bin and, with a reported compensation packet of £150,000 (AUS $230,000), he is a lot of money for a 29-year-old.
Some Eels fans may want this warrior spirit in their squad but Hock could rock the boat a bit too much if things do not start too well next season. Eels fans who watch live rugby online will be hoping that any gamble pays off, as the club try to avoid another bottom-of-the-ladder year.