NRL transfer news: Ryan Matterson to sign $2.4 million deal at Eels

Wayne Bennett and his Dolphins have missed out yet again with Parramatta star Ryan Matterson rejecting the club in order to extend his time as an Eel.

Wayne Bennett has suffered another blow with NSW Origin star Ryan Matterson rejecting a big offer from the Dolphins to ink a $2.4 million extension to remain at Parramatta.

Matterson told his Eels teammates the good news in the sheds before their 26-16 win over the Roosters on Saturday night.

The retention of Matterson is a major coup for the Eels, who were under siege for his signature after Dolphins super coach Bennett tabled a four-year offer worth around $650,000 a season.

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“I thought he was an absolute chance to go to the Dolphins,” Eels teammate Reagan Campbell-Gillard told the NCA Newswire. “He’s a local junior and a local product who came through the Parra system. He obviously went away to a couple of other clubs, but to secure him for four years is a massive boost for us.”

The Eels have already been rocked by a series of forward departures with Isaiah Papali’i (Tigers), Marata Niukore (Warriors), Oregon Kaufusi (Cronulla), Reed Mahoney (Bulldogs) joining rival clubs in 2023.

Ryan Matterson will extend his stay with the Eels. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Ryan Matterson will extend his stay with the Eels. Picture: Jonathan Ng

But Matterson will not be part of the Eels exodus, with his ascension to the NSW Origin side for his Game One debut last Wednesday week convincing the 27-year-old to chase a premiership ring at Parramatta.

The Dolphins were a major threat. Matterson was so genuine about joining the NRL’s 17th team he flew to Brisbane last month for a meeting with Bennett and tour of the Dolphins’ headquarters at Redcliffe.

Matterson was said to be highly impressed with Bennett’s pitch, but had some concerns about joining a foundation team that has yet to secure a marquee signing to spearhead their playmaking spine.

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur confirmed after the Eels win that Matterson was staying.

“I’m not sure if he’s actually signed the contract, but he’s committed to the club moving forward,” Arthur said.

Ryan Matterson made his Origin debut in game I this year. Picture: NRL PHOTOS
Ryan Matterson made his Origin debut in game I this year. Picture: NRL PHOTOS

“It’s good for the club. It’s hard to keep them all together, but I think the club has done a good job to put us in this position where the boys want to stay.”

While the Dolphins have been pilloried for failing to land a marquee signing thus far, they have secured premiership-winning pedigree in the forwards with the signing of Storm trio Kenny and Jesse Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi.

The Redcliffe-based operation has also snared Souths grand-final prop Mark Nicholls, while Eels ironman Ray Stone, currently sidelined with an ACL injury, has inked a deal with the Dolphins.

The Dolphins viewed Matterson as a possible starting No.13. The former NSW City Origin forward has a relationship with Dolphins recruitment chief Peter O’Sullivan, who first signed Matterson to the Roosters in 2016.

Matterson has been a revelation for the Eels this season and was rewarded with a NSW Origin debut.

“I’m more involved,” he said recently. “I get my hands on the ball a lot more and I get to choose whether to run or pass. Back row at the moment people are running lines and you’re a bit more of a crash player. But I enjoy being a ballplayer.”

Originally published as NRL transfer news: Ryan Matterson to sign $2.4 million deal at Eels