Another week, and another loss for the Eels. It’s easy to be nothing but critical, and though I have my own criticisms, there are acknowledgements to be made. To find a way forward, you need to acknowledge what you already have, as well as what you need.
With that in mind, From The Stands will examine my thoughts moving forward and will be presented in three parts.
1. The Criticism
In professional sport winning must be the aim – if you aren’t winning you aren’t successful.
From the stands I cannot help but think my team was missing a little bit of passion and fire against the Knights. This is not a criticism of the effort, even if misdirected, or the desire to win. I know our players genuinely tried and care.
Here’s the problem. What we needed last week was just not there. A number of times during the game I thought about how badly we needed some Kenny Edwards niggle or a Kaysa Pritchard hit or quick dart from dummy half. Sadly, with one gone, and the other on the sidelines, it was never going to happen.
From the stands, for a large part of the match, the team looked like most teams out of the running for the eight – they looked like they were going through the motions. It is easy to start a game well but getting into the grind and being inspired and or motivated to do the one percenters when your season is over is difficult. Yet, that’s what winning matches requires.
Most weeks Brown contributes to that passion and fire via something that our other forwards can’t deliver – the big hit, and the uncompromising aggression in both attack and defence. So if, as I see it, he is the lone enforcer, to expect him to do it every week by himself is ridiculous. Unfortunately, Friday was not his best performance.
I hope to see a little more fire and passion from my team in the remaining seven rounds and that means some changes need to happen. Personally, I believe the team needs Kaysa Pritchard’s variety, aggression and passion for the Eels.
There is little doubt that he genuinely loves this club. He needs to be in the 17, as he has something that we are missing and badly need in the remaining seven games. Besides what he will bring in attack and defence, his example will definitely inspire and demand that those one percenters are done by his team mates.
2. The Confession
I was wrong about Jarryd Hayne.
I disagreed with his recruitment as I genuinely saw no reason to bring him back to the club. I saw his motivations as being all about himself, with little care or passion about the club. My disappointment with the way he went to the Titans clouded my judgement.
Ultimately, I decided to trust the coaches and management and give him a go.
This season he’s dealt with being shifted between positions and having extended periods on the sideline. People may have expected petulance but instead Jarryd has had a real dig, especially when the team needed it the most.
On Friday, and in other recent rounds, I saw a man who did everything he could do to inspire his team mates. He showed me that while his return was undoubtedly what he needed, it was also something that this club needs.
He is still an elite athlete and he needs to be retained by the Eels.
3. The Demand
From the stands, I believe that this team needs more players who are dedicated to the Parramatta club, especially if the Eels are going to rebound next year.
The likes of Hayne and Pritchard possess the sheer will and passion to motivate others because they are and always have been Parra kids. And though we have the likes of another passionate Parra man in Tim Mannah getting closer to the end of his career, there’s a new generation of players graduating from Jersey Flegg that must be a part of the future – and sooner rather than later!
As always, my family and I will stick strong as we look forward to the clash against the Bulldogs. We know no other way. I hope to see Kaysa play and will be disappointed if I don’t.
Regardless, supporting the players and the club remains vital for all Eels fans.