Round 16 Drink Of Choice – Coke Zero & Bundy
It is difficult to write a long-form blog when you bear witness to a result like that of Thursday night. When every single aspect of the team and its gameplan goes catastrophically wrong not only is it singularly unpleasant to write about as a fan, it is also quite difficult to finagle any lessons or talking points of value. The frustrations felt in Parramatta’s anaemic losses to the Sea Eagles and Dragons in 2020 paled to the embarrassment and perhaps even sheer apathy felt by fans during the course of the events in Round 16. Sixties and I spoke about the 38-0 loss at length in this week’s review podcast so check that out. Shameless as it may be, if the audio format is more to your pace be sure to drop the track a like and subscribe to us on Soundcloud to move the needle over there.
Instead of doubling down on examining where it all went wrong on a night where everything was off-kilter we will step back, just as the Eels will need to do this week, and take a look at the big picture. Parramatta have four weeks to figure things out. Four weeks to cleanse their minds of all the nagging doubts and negativity that has bogged them down to one degree or another over the last two months. The real challenge here though is to find a means of doing this within the COVID-19 bubble. Players and coaches simply do not have access to the usual means and avenues to extricate themselves from the situation that the Eels find themselves in and that is a problem.
The manner in which Parramatta lost to South Sydney on Thursday night was essentially the manifestation of every possible nightmare scenario. The wholesale erosion of our then competition leading defence, the magnification of our offensive miscues and a long-term injury to the one player that was threatening the Rabbitohs in Dylan Brown.
Sidebar, how on Earth did he make that long range cover tackle on Campbell Graham running on essentially one leg? His grit and competitive drive are out of this world.
The entire comedy of errors was so far removed from who the Parramatta Eels know themselves to be and that is why they need to take any opportunity they can to take a step back this week.
The imposing figure of team that built punishing victories on the back of sustained and uncompromising violence of collisions has to be rediscovered. The spark of a brotherhood that dominated the second half of any given game due to a single-minded dedication to their game-plan, defensive structures and fitness needs to rekindled. Our willingness to attack a team with speed, power and a determination to win each contest needs to be more than a tantalising glimpse each week.
This is a challenge that faces every player and coach on the roster but obviously some will shoulder more of the burden than others and perhaps none more so than Mitchell Moses. While he is hampered by the lingering effects of a lower leg injury of his own, with Brown sidelined for the rest of the regulation season at a minimum, Moses has find a way to adapt his play-style to exert a greater influence over the team in light of his own current limitations.
Mitchell has to keep the Eels on time in the coming weeks. Keep his men grinding away at the game-plan and galvanising his troops in the face of adversity. While the Eels are capable of beautiful sweeping attacking movements he needs to keep it foremost in his mind that we need to prioritise winning the cardinal direction of North-South before venturing East and West.
This week represents perhaps their best chance to cycle the power buttons and reset mentally given that they are armed with a 10-day turnaround before they face the irrepressible New Zealand Warriors. At some point, every man, woman or child from all walks of life has to face down their own self-doubts and inner demons to better themselves. That time is now for the Parramatta Eels as they best the beast that they have created in their own minds.