Parramatta halfback Brett Finch will remain an Eel until the end of the 2011 season after signing a new three-year deal with the NRL club on Monday.
Finch, one of five contenders for the vacant NSW No.7 jumper, said it was always his intention to remain with the club he joined last year after being let go by the Sydney Roosters at the end of the 2006 season.
The club's ability to come up with the money to keep him had been in question until a few weeks ago, but salary cap pressure was eased when troubled young playmaker Tim Smith was let go due to his ongoing battle with bipolar disorder.
"I can't speak highly enough of the players and coaching staff, I've really enjoyed my footy over the past 18 months under Michael Hagan and I'm looking forward to that continuing between now and 2011," Finch said.
"The team has a lot of potential within and I'm confident things will only get better as the season wears on, I have no doubt we're headed in the right direction."
Coach Michael Hagan said re-signing Finch had been seen as a priority for the club.
"It's an important retention, the stability and enthusiasm that Brett brings to the team is really important both on and off the field," Hagan said.