Why the Eels turned their backs on a young Mitchell Moses
TO think Parramatta could have had Mitchell Moses for less than $10,000 of school fees.
Long before he was roped into the infamous "big four" tagline at Wests Tigers, Moses was a 16-year-old Eels junior with serious potential - only to be told he was too small to wear the blue and gold.
Six years on, the Eels have no doubt paid a pretty price, but got their man on a two-year deal from 2018.
Moses has since also requested - and been denied - an early release to return to his old stomping ground immediately.
But in the same year he led Parramatta's 2010 SG Ball side to a grand final against a Penrith mob captained by Bryce Cartwright, it was the Eels shunning the future NRL playmaker.
No irony's been lost on uncle Benny Elias, who took Moses to the Tigers afterwards, or controversial ex-Eels CEO Paul Osbourne, in the chair at the time.
"He played SG Ball there at Parramatta," Balmain legend Elias said.
"I spoke to the ex-chairman (Osbourne) there today.
"He rang me up today and reminded me I approached him to say: 'Can you look after his (Holy Cross Ryde) school fees for him? He's a good kid, he's got potential.'
"They waved him away, said goodbye. They said 'we'd love to, but we don't do that'.
"(Rod) Rocket Reddy was the talent scout at the time and Rocket said 'he's too skinny and he's not ready for what we want'.
"Paul Osbourne was the CEO and I made a few calls to him about Mitchell. He was aware of him, and knew he was doing well in SG Ball. But he just said 'look, we've got other options'."
"So I grabbed him and brought him across to the Tigers. They embraced him and he felt at home immediately. That's the really sad thing about it at the moment.
"They've been very good to him and unfortunately it hasn't worked out at the end of the day."
Whenever Moses slots into the Eels scrumbase alongside Corey Norman, it will be another sure shot in the arm for their premiership credentials.
The 22-year-old declared just last week that "money is the last thing on my mind" and that playing finals footy was his priority.
He clearly sees Parramatta as a more likely setting than Concord for that to occur, to the point where he has pushed to join his new club straight off the bat.
Elias has spoken to Moses and declared him "upset" but in "good spirits" amid a storm of attention around his nephew, who flew out on Thursday for the Tigers' clash with the Cowboys in Townsville.
While the young half was offering no comment to reporters and new coach Ivan Cleary said any request was yet to cross his desk, a release is believed to be on the cards after the Tigers' Easter Monday clash with the Eels.
Elias will still bleed black and gold - "that club is the love of my life".
But he admits he'll have more than a passing interest in their western Sydney rivals. And sending Moses on his way could be in the best interests of all concerned.
"He knows he won't be there next year, unfortunately it's a long season still ahead and if he's not happy then you ask to go don't you?" Elias told foxsports.com.au.
"If they grant that, then off you go. If they don't then I'm sure that he'll respect it. He's got a great relationship with all those players and the club has been very good to him over the years.
"He's damned if he does, damned if he doesn't in this position.
"He's still in good spirits. He's a great kid and with all this pressure on him at 22 it's a big ask.
"He's been very good to the club and the club's been very good to him.
"But they put out a statement saying he's not a priority and if you don't feel wanted you go and that's basically what it came down to.
"They stated in black and white that Mitch wasn't the priority and they need money in the salary cap for (Tedesco and Woods) ... Now he's off to Parramatta and they're on the one way up as a great club now."