Parramatta winger Ken Sio is urging the club’s hierarchy to repel the offers boom flanker Semi Radradra has apparently fielded from overseas rugby union clubs.
Radradra is signed to Parramatta until the end of next season. However, the 21-year-old’s devastating efforts for the Eels – he’s already scored 11 tries this year and has been dubbed "semi-trailer" for powering through the defence – have reportedly been noted by cashed-up Japanese and French rugby teams.
Sio and Radradra have forged a potent partnership on the Eels wings. Speaking before Friday’s match against the third-placed Penrith Panthers, Sio said the confidence the Fijian flyer provided out wide added extra weight to the new-look Eels who head into round 12 in fourth place after finishing last in the previous two seasons.
"He’s a big bloke and he gives us all motivation to run like him and also as hard as him," Sio said. "Whatever we do, we know Semi is going to be there, he’s going to catch them no matter what.
"Of course I want him to stay, but we don’t really talk about that. We mainly talk about training and what we can do to improve our game together . . . what we can do out on the field."
Sio said Radradra’s rapid ascent since his top-grade debut was inspiring because, as Fiji’s youngest-ever Rugby Sevens player, he’d had only limited experience in the 13-man code.
"Through hard work and believing in himself Semi has come a long way in the two years since he played his first game of rugby league," Sio said. "I’d love him to stay, he’s down to earth and he’s funny."
While Radradra has enjoyed most of the attention, the 23-year-old Sio has continued to build upon his reputation as a valuable member of the Eels. He was thrust into top grade by then-coach Stephen Kearney in 2011 and shone in a dismal season.
"Back then in that first year a bit of luck came my way," he said. "This year I’m confident . . . I am myself out there and get my job done.
"It’s confidence. Some people have it naturally and they can take pressure as if it is nothing. You just need confidence in yourself and the belief you can get the job done."
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has scotched a report that linked the club’s former Queensland and Australia centre Willie Tonga to the St George Illawarra Dragons.
"No, he’s staying here," was Arthur response.
Arthur’s greater concern was to ensure the premiership’s surprise packets capitalised on the progress they’d made when they take on the Panthers.
"It’s an important game for us, but what’s more important is backing up our last two efforts," Sio said. "Our defence was good against the Dragons, we were a bit off against [the Cronulla] Sharks so we need to come out and defend well.
"We know we can score some points and we have some great attack in us at times, but we need to be strong defensively and we need to be consistent in that area.
"We just can’t do it for one week and two weeks later turn our toes up in defence."