2013 NRL Season Preview: Parramatta Eels

By Brady Foray Writers

Your nerves are high. The butterflies in your stomach start to flutter. It’s almost kickoff. Finally the footy season is back around again. Catch you next year, Cricket. The thoughts of pre-season and summer seem distant memories… for us fans (forget about the players). It’s all about our sweaty palms grabbing the remote and turning their television over to Channel Nine. This is it. It is time to see what has become of your team. NRL, version 2013, is back baby.

New coaches and fresh faces, controversies and highlights, this NRL season is shaping up to be one of the more promising and closely predicted season’s in recent memory. How will the Tigers go in the post-Sheens era? Can Melbourne go back-to-back? Can NSW finally win the shield back from those pesky cane toads? More importantly, how will the recent drug scandal throughout Australian sport affect the NRL?

The Brady Foray is offering a comprehensive preview of each club leading up to the Roosters/Rabbitohs season opener on March 7th as we work our way up the ladder, starting today from 16th and every day leading up to opening day of season 2013 when we reveal who we think will be first come the final whistle in Round 26.

So sit back, relax. Put your feet up and enjoy the ride that you and your club are about to venture on in season 2013. More importantly, good luck. It’s going to be an awesome season.

Parramatta Eels

After a torturous 2012 campaign which saw the club land the wooden spoon for the first time since 1972, the Eels are looking to make amends for their failure’s last season. The only way for Parramatta is up. Unfortunately, the 2013 season isn’t going to be the launching pad for future seasons to come for the Eels either. With the retirements of club stalwarts Luke Burt and Nathan Hindmarsh, two men who have been the heart and soul of the club for well over the last decade of football, the Eels will be hard pressed to replace the legacies that these two men have left in such a short amount of time.

While sure they’ve signed a highly acclaimed coach in Ricky Stuart and two rising stars of the game in Sea Eagles duo Darcy Lussick and Daniel Harrison, it is hard to see the Eels challenging the NRL much at all this season especially with the gap that Hindmarsh has left to fill. Last season, Hindmarsh averaged 43 tackles, 12 runs for 91 metres per game.

Many of the Eels biggest names, in Jarryd Hayne, Matthew Keating, Ben Smith and Willie Tonga, spent many a weeks on the sideline throughout season 2012. If they are to stay fit in this season entire then the Eels may surprise some people although to see them challenging for even a top eight berth is hard to see happening at this stage. A wooden spoon double is expected.

Gains: Darcy Lussick (Sea Eagles), Daniel Harrison (Sea Eagles), Kenny Edwards (Southport Tigers), Lorenzo Ma’afu (Ipswich Jets), Api Pewhairangi (Knights), Brayden Willieme (Storm), Blake Harrison (Sea Eagles)

Departures: Jacob Gagan (Sea Eagles), Nathan Hindmarsh (Retired), Luke Burt (Retired), Casey McGuire (Retired), Justin Poore (Wakefield), Shane Shackleton (Panthers, mid-season), Esi Tonga (Sea Eagles), Justin Horo (Sea Eagles), Marmin Barba (Titans), Jamil Hopoate (Manly), Jacob Atkins (Titans), Troy Savage (French RL), Jon Mannah.

Key to Success:

Many people would be quick to point the finger at fullback Jarryd Hayne in this case but something has to be said about diminutive halfback Chris Sandow (pictured right) Signing with the Eels last year for well over $500,000 a season, Sandow was quick to be judged by fans. While he may not have had as bad of a season as many would lead you to believe, Sandow and Parramatta fans know he can definitely be better. With a struggling forward pack, this may be a hard task but if Sandow is to inject himself into a game and back himself then he’s already set for a better season than last.

Player to Watch:

The stop-start career of Jacob Loko (pictured left) has been painful to watch. Since his first grade debut as a fresh faced 18-year-old in 2011,  Loko has undergone two knee reconstructions. The now 20-year-old has managed a clean bill of health so far this off season and is fit and firing to go.

Erratic Eddy says:

“Well, well, well, finally Eddy has been let out of his cage. The Parramatta Eels were abysmal last year, the only shining light was Hindy and he’s buggered off now hasn’t he! Hindmarsh is irreplaceable. No overrated silvertail, I’m looking at you Lussick, is going to replicate the stuff that Hindy managed throughout his career. Let it be noted that if Jarryd Hayne is found to be shopping again while his team is playing, don’t judge…a man’s gotta’ eat!”

Strongest Side:1- Jarryd Hayne 2- Cheyse Blair 3- Ryan Morgan 4- Willie Tonga 5- Ken Sio 6- Luke Kelly 7- Chris Sandow 8-Tim Mannah 9- Matt Keating 10- Fui Fui Moi Moi 11- Matthew Ryan 12- Ben Smith 13- Reni Maitua Interchange: 14- Joseph Paulo 15- Daniel Harrison 16- Darcy Lussick 17- Mitchell Allgood. 18th Man: Ben Roberts.

Predicted Position: 16th

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