Wests Tigers-bound rising star Stefano Utoikamanu is a step closer to his NRL debut with Parramatta after the Eels upgraded the young forward to their 30-man squad for 2020.
The NSW under-20 and Australian Schoolboys representative will play out the year for the Eels despite signing a lucrative three-year deal with the Tigers from next season.
Eels general manager of football Mark O'Neill said the upgrade was well deserved.
"Stefano is an exciting young prospect who has been training really well during the pre-season and has earnt this opportunity," O'Neill said.
"He is held in such high regard from his peers and the broader Eels club. We are all looking forward to his contribution throughout this season as we strive to do better than what we achieved last year."
The Eels in November rejected a request for a release from the 192cm, 115kg prop to link with the Tigers immediately.
The 19-year-old, who has been likened to Brisbane's Payne Haas and is regarded as the most promising young player in this year's rookie class.
He will compete with the likes of Junior Paulo, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Kane Evans, Nathan Brown and Daniel Alvaro for minutes in Parramatta's middle-forward rotation.
Utoikamanu scored the match-winning try for NSW in a man-of-the-match performance in the under 18s Origin game in 2018, backing that up with 149 metres from 11 hit-ups for the Blues in the under 20s victory last year.