True Blue Nathan Hindmarsh wants Parramatta to hang on to Jarryd Hayne but only if the Eels star is prepared to accept a salary of no more than $600,000 a season.
Parramatta returned to pre-season training on November 1 but Hayne's immediate career remains in limbo after being unable to come to terms with the club. NRL.com.au has reported St George Illawarra has expressed interest in the former NSW winger and will meet with him soon.
At the height of his NRL career, Hayne could command a salary of $1 million a season but Hindmarsh believes his price tag has come down in recent years.
"I think at the moment he's probably asking a little bit too much, only a little bit too much, but I think around the $500,000-$600,000 mark is probably a decent number for 'Haynesey' if he can play the same footy he played at the back end of the year," Hindmarsh told NSWRL.com.au.
The Eels are keen to retain the former NSW star, particularly after his whirlwind finish to the season, but will need to move other players on to squeeze him in under the NRL's salary cap.
There has been speculation centre Michael Jennings could end up at Newcastle which would allow the Eels to keep Hayne. However, if he is forced out and the Dragons are unable to strike a deal he has also been linked to a possible switch to French rugby union.
Hindmarsh, who played alongside Hayne for the Eels and the Blues, said he would be disappointed if the three-time Brad Fittler Medal winner was forced to switch codes and denied a swansong at the club where his NRL career started.
"I hope the game doesn't lose him to French rugby, I hope another NRL side can pick him up if he doesn't stay at Parramatta," Hindmarsh said.
"He did have an outstanding back end of the year this year so I'd like to see him remain at the club - not just for the team itself but for Haynesey as well. It's coming down to his last few years to remain at the club and finish up at the club he started at which would be great for him.
"But in saying that the old saying you've got to make hay while the sun shines, if he happens to go to French rugby all the best for him there."
Hayne landed at the Eels again this season after a turbulent period in his career which saw him leave the NRL to pursue a NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers, before returning to Rugby League for an unhappy stint with the Gold Coast Titans.
Hindmarsh: If Arthur wants Hayne he'll find a way
Hayne struggled for consistency this season after being tried in several different positions by coach Brad Arthur, including fullback, centre and wing, but as far as Hindmarsh goes there's only one position he can see the Dally M medal winner.
"I like him at fullback," Hindmarsh said.
"For me I've played with him at fullback, I've watched him at fullback, I think he knows how to inject himself and where to inject himself.
"He was a little bit rusty at the start of this year and didn't have the best year at the Titans but he's a two-time Dally M winner and he's played for the 49ers off the back of never playing the game.
"He's a talent, I think for Haynesey consistency is the key and hopefully if Parramatta do happen to retain him he starts the season on fire.
"If Haynesey can play like he did at the end of the year, he was the Eels' best player by far towards the back end of the year.
"He'll be a very important part of the side and will determine how far the side goes."