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PARRAMATTA legend Nathan Hindmarsh expects the Eels to be among the premiership frontrunners in 2018 but he says there’s one area in the roster that needs to be bolstered to make them a match for heavyweights like the Cowboys and Roosters.
Other than the signing of larger than life prodigal son Jarryd Hayne, the Eels have had a relatively quiet off-season on the recruitment front, giving them the advantage of stability as they prepare to better their second week finals exit last year.
Hindmarsh says coach Brad Arthur will miss the impact of matchwinner Semi Radradra — who recently tied his future to rugby union by signing a lucrative two-year deal with French club Bordeaux — but believes there may yet be a silver lining to that story.
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Hayne defends poor pre-seasonHayne defends poor pre-season1:12
So keen was Arthur to secure Radradra’s return in blue and gold, he set aside special funds to entice the star winger back mid-season had he cut ties with French rugby following his stint with Toulon.
With an already strong backline holding the Eels in good stead, Hindmarsh told foxsports.com.au Arthur should use the funds to find the club’s next gun power forward — a position that has never really been filled since the 2014 departure of Fuifui Moimoi.
Fuifui Moimoi was a much loved figure at the Eels.
Fuifui Moimoi was a much loved figure at the Eels.Source: News Corp Australia
“I think our backs are pretty good at the moment, I like our centres as well,” Hindmarsh said.
“Maybe a bit of a power front-rower or a back-rower there, someone to help out Nathan Brown a little bit more.
“Tepai Moeroa I think’s still got a fair bit to learn. He can be good but I think it’s consistency week in and week out for him. Kane Evans is there, but I’m not sure, I’m going back to someone a bit more like Fui Fui, a bit more explosive.
“Someone who’s going to punch through the line and get the sets started for them, get them on the front foot a bit earlier in that set, so a bit more of a power front rower.”
What Hindmarsh is looking for to beef-up Parramatta’s pack is a unique quality that not all NRL clubs can call on.
The Roosters have Dylan Napa, Manly have Marty Taupau and the Cowboys have Jason Taumalolo but the Eels lack a middle forward ballrunner with the explosiveness to compete with those stars.
While Kane Evans looks set to be a solid addition to Parramatta’s pack, the qualities he will bring to Arthur’s side will be more silk and subtlety than sledgehammer.
Kane Evans will give the Eels’ pack a point of difference.
Kane Evans will give the Eels’ pack a point of difference.Source: News Corp Australia
“I saw what he did for the Roosters and he’s a big, tall, lanky bloke,” Hindmarsh said.
“I don’t mind the buy there, he’s got a good late offload when he can get his arms free, which is good. It creates some good second phase play for the halves, which Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman will enjoy playing off the back of.”
Ultimately, says Hindmarsh, it will be the ability of the key playmakers — Moses, Norman and fullback Clint Gutherson — that will determine Parramatta’s fate in 2018.
“I was a bit hesitant when they purchased Moses, considering his form at the Tigers at the time,” Hindmarsh said.
“But I think he’s come on in leaps and bounds. I’m quite glad he’s at the Eels at the moment. I think their combination is starting to work well.
“You probably would think that Norman is the shot caller there but I think last year Moses gained that confidence to start taking control of a few games and his kicking game was outstanding, so it’s a great combination at the moment.
Corey Norman and Clint Gutherson will play a key role for the Eels.
Corey Norman and Clint Gutherson will play a key role for the Eels.Source: Getty Images
“ ... We’ve seen in previous years how good Gutho is around the ball and he got put out on the wing in one of those games last year and the team wasn’t themself. The spark wasn’t quite there.
“But I could have Bevan French at fullback as well. I think he’s a talented young player who’s learnt a lot under Brad Arthur.
“He’s put a bit of weight on and he’s understanding what it’s about to play NRL week in, week out, rather than just play under 20s, so he’s learnt a lot there.
“But Gutho definitely has to be around the ball, and I think the thing for Gutho is he’s been good in so many positions, it’s hard for him to nail one down.
“It’s a good thing for Brad Arthur though.”
Those players are as rare as Hens teeth. Almost impossible to get them from a club without paying huge overs.
Did we even know Jordan McLean was available or was that done on the sly.
Don't agree. If Kane plays at his ferocious best in two 15 minute intervals, ideally 20 minutes per game from the bench or not, then overall, our forward pack has already improved at least 20% based on last seasons effort.
Napa is not really that player
he is an aggressive defender but does not really have the leg speed in attack
I don't think Hiny is capable of putting that statement together, Obviously a ghost writer giving us his thoughts.
I don't disagree with the comments made, who did we miss that we should of got and wanted to play with us, cant think of any? Wish list notwithstanding!
What’s going on with the manly cap and what could happen? If it sorts itself out maybe they’d have to shed a player and we can jump on Marty Taupau who would be very very ideal.
According to Kent on 360 Monday night, it looks like Manly have done a deal with Greenberg in the face of what the Integrity unit have recommended. This is why it is taking so long.
napa to the Eels . dont forget he is a brissy boy dont get your hopes up
I got excited then I realised you’re just catching onto old rumours.