Parramatta great Nathan Hindmarsh says Eels fans need to have patience with key signing Will Hopoate as the star centre returns to the NRL next year after two seasons' absence.
Hopes are high out Parramatta way that the former NSW representative can lead a revival at the Eels after successive wooden spoon seasons, when he returns from his Mormon mission to rugby league in 2014.
Hindmarsh is hopeful Hopoate, 21, can live up to the hype, but says he can't be expected to find his form of two seasons ago right away.
"I really hope everyone is going to give him some time," Hindmarsh told AAP.
"He has been out of the game for several years and he is not the same size as when he left.
"He is definitely a lot leaner than when he left but it won't take too long to get that back.
"I'm not expecting massive things from him straight away. It will take him some time to hit his straps when he starts playing again."
"I'm sure there's going to be a lot of keen interest in seeing how he goes."
After four seasons of misery since their 2009 grand final appearance, Hindmarsh, who played 330 games for the Eels in a 15-year career, believes 2014 is a vital year.
"It's important for the team and the club in regards to the supporter base," Hindmarsh said.
"To try and generate supporters and sponsors ... it affects the whole dynamic of the club.
"You will always have those rusted on fans but you need to attract the young fans too.
"It's a fresh start with some fresh faces here next season and I think that is something to look forward to."