Round 6 Drink Of Choice – Southern Comfort
Margin Of Error – 5 Games
For 5 weeks fans have patiently waited for the Eels to turn the corner. From the capitulation against Penrith in Round 1 and the belt down at Brookvale that followed right up until the last two weeks where the Eels finally showed some resilience but were ultimately undone but teams that simply executed the fundamentals of the game better. It has been an arduous and painstaking process for all involved. I don’t doubt for a second that the coaches and players are hurting every bit as bad as the fans but we have simply reached a point where changes have to be made. Let’s keep it short and sweet this week…the team needs to have ‘the talk‘.
Staying the course is no longer an option
Loyalty has proven to be an incredibly effective tool for Brad Arthur over the last two years. Against all odds he navigated the Eels to a winning season in 2016 (13-11) even as the club burned down around him amidst an exhaustive salary cap investigation. In 2017 Arthur backed his troops through a four game slump and with the arrival of Mitchell Moses he didn’t simply turn things around – the Eels were one of the best two or three teams down the stretch.
This year is different though. Loyalty has not won the day for Parramatta. They have lurched from loss to loss en route to a shocking 0-6 record. Even after showing something that resembles a backbone defensively in the last two rounds, the Eels are so far off the pace in regards to discipline and their offensive timings and structures that change simply must be brought about.
Change that must encompass multiple levels.
Starting with the playing roster, it is evident that something has to give. I am not going to sit here and tell you all I know the perfect line-up to guarantee the Eels a breakthrough victory but Arthur vowed to make changes if disciplinary issues were not addressed and here we are after conceding a whopping 15 penalties to the Canberra Raiders.
Regardless on whether you think the changes need to happen at hooker, half or somewhere in the pack – Arthur needs to look outside the current roster for any sort of spark, anyone that can be a catalyst to lift the lethargic pall that has fallen over the team.
With Jarryd Hayne, Brad Takairangi and Nathan Brown all scheduled to sit another week out the options aren’t as flush as they could be but between Top 30 options like Cameron King, Josh Hoffman, Will Smith, David Gower, Marata Niukore, Suiaia Matagi, Siosaia Vave and younger candidates like Reed Mahoney, Jaeman Salmon, Ray Stone, Dane Aukafolau and Greg Leleisiuao there is a permutation that has to be more effective than what Parramatta have fielded in Rounds 1-6.
As much as our execution has dogged us this year, it is hard to argue against the notion that Arthur has his coaching staff need to change the paradigm in attack. Whether it is purely on the players for falling out of sync and executing structures they should know inside and out poorly, or if the new officiating interpretations have changed the meta-game itself – the Eels need to adapt.
From aiding the forwards by opening the ruck up more from dummy half to punishing teams for cheating heavily in their sliding patterns on the edges, Parramatta need to do their homework on the homework that has been done to them by other clubs.
Above all though, they need to find a method to actually have something that resembles efficiency in the red zone. For all their attacking woes this season, Parramatta have managed to somehow be one of the more productive teams in the NRL at forcing line drop outs. Despite that neat little fact they are yet to convert any line drop out into a try – which only reinforces just how deeply seated their issues are currently.
This self-scouting process falls equally on the coaches and the play-makers within the team and between them both they need find a tactical shift that will kindle the Eels to life in attack.
The King’s Court
While Clinton Gutherson’s return wasn’t the cure-all to Parramatta’s pitiful plight, he hardly looked like a man who had spent nearly a year in rehab overcoming a gruesome knee injury. As he returns to his peak form in the comings weeks, the Eels have to lean on his talents and find ways to keep him around the ball. He can’t turn the tide on his lonesome but is he most certainly one of the keys if Parramatta are to reverse their fortunes.
Beyond that, there really isn’t much to say folks. The Eels have run out of any excuse possible for their awful efforts on the field and we can no longer try to find the good in a tough or courageous loss. Change has to come for the Eels and they desperately need to remember the kind of team they have shown themselves to be over the last two years.
Just about only fresh thing about the Eels right now is what my man Parramatters has for you at SportFirst Nambucca. New in stock this week is this sharp looking tactical hoodie, so hit up the link below to get a damn good offer and support one of the little guys in doing so.
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