It was a tough night to be a Parramatta supporter last night. Coming off the back of two straight losses and the bye, last night’s game was an important one. Prior to kick off, the Parramatta Eels sat outside of the 8 simply based on for and against. Following last night’s spectacular loss to the Warriors, the Eels now sit at 11th place, still out of the eight based on for and against.
The debate over the last 24 hours has been about whether we have seen the best of the Parramatta Eels for 2014 and I’ve got a lot to say.
First of all, it has to be said, that I have been absolutely delighted with the way the Parramatta Eels have played so far this season. This time last year, Parramatta were heading towards their second successive wooden spoon. We were in turmoil on the field and in the board room and as a supporter, it was an extremely difficult time, particularly following the lack of success since the Grand Final of 2009.
At the beginning of this season, my expectations were pretty low – anything other than the spoon would have been an improvement. However, the Eels have done much more than that and in previous blogs I have credited coach Brad Arthur. I still think Brad Arthur has done amazing things with our squad this year – we look a different side and now have purpose in attack and have improved out of sight defensively (despite what you saw last night). No matter where we finish this year, I feel like we are on the right track for the future and I can hold my head high and be encouraged that the squad has indeed improved since last year.
However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely disappointed last night.
The first issue that needs to be addressed is the Hayne factor. A lot of people have criticised coach Arthur for resting Hayne, but the reality is, it was a decision which the coach made and I don’t feel Hayne’s presence on the field would have been enough to turn it around for us last night.
I cannot give enough credit to the Warriors last night. They are a real dark horse of the competition this year and played so well last night. I think there was very little the Eels could have done to stem the dynamic and creative attack that the Warriors showcased last night.
Coaches receive little to no credit when things are going right and receive all the credit when things are going wrong. I respect Arthur’s decision and ultimately, if Hayne is the one thing which is preventing us from 40 being put on us each week, that’s extremely disappointing. In the end player welfare should always come first and I look forward to seeing Hayne at his explosive best come next week against the Bunnies.
I have seen enough from the Eels this year to feel we still have a crack at the eight. However, the impact that injury has had on our squad this year cannot be understated (and I’m certainly not using it as an excuse).
Losing Nathan Peats earlier in the season was a massive blow. He was buy of the year for the Eels and buy of the season for any club. He added another level to our attach and his enthusiasm on field was infectious. Other players the Eels are missing at the moment include Mannah, Hopoate, Ma’u, Mossop, Edwards and Sio. All clubs suffer from injury throughout the year, but Parramatta are certainly not able, at the moment, to put their best side on the field.
The Eels, I think, are not done for season 2014 – we still have some very exciting players on the field and you can never, ever underestimate the impact Jarryd Hayne will have. However, this game against South Sydney on Friday night will be a very interesting one. If Parramatta are to feature (at all) come September, we really need to get back on track. Regardless, come the end of the season, I think Eels fans will look back on Season 2014 and will certainly have something to smile about.
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