It was a fantastic inspiring moment for me. - If I manage to find video on what I saw indoors of Dylan coming through the paid members section that finally opens up to the whole stadium as the players run out to the field I'll put it up here. 

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  • Jennings reaps NRL finals reward with Eels

    a day ago


    Michael Jennings' call to turn down better money and job security at Newcastle has proven the right one as the Parramatta star prepares for his 15th NRL finals appearance.

    Jennings will run out on Saturday night in Melbourne as Parramatta's most experienced man in the finals, having reached September with the Sydney Roosters and Penrith.

    Rejuvenated in 2019 after a disappointing 2018, Jennings will be rewarded with a new two-year deal that will put him on track to join the NRL's 300-game club.

    But the veteran centre could easily have missed Parramatta's resurgence, had he not chosen the then-wooden spooners over a Knights side on the rise last summer.

    "It's been really rewarding (staying)," Jennings told AAP.


    "It was a tough period back then trying to decide where I was going to be.

    "I sat down with (coach) Brad (Arthur) and said I want to stay this year and I'm not going to go anywhere.

    "I wanted to back myself to do the job here.

    "I just felt there was unfinished business at Parra. I felt I could give more and I still think I could give more.

    "I''m happy I stuck to what I wanted to do.

    "I backed myself and that's what's satisfying and rewarding; I backed myself that I could deliver for this team."

    The 31-year-old has since rung true on his promise to deliver.

    His 10 tries for the season are his equal-most since 2014 at the Roosters, while he scored one and set up another in Sunday's 58-0 flogging of Brisbane.

    But he said he never entered the year feeling any pressure to secure another deal at Parramatta.

    "I wasn't really focusing on getting a contract," he said.

    "It was just more backing that I had more to offer. I'm proving that I can give more to this team.

    "It's a young team and Brad is still learning a lot of things and I feel like I can help Brad and the team.

    "Gutho (Clint Gutherson) is a young captain. Mitch (Moses) is young as well.

    "There is just a lot I felt I could offer this team.

    "I need to be smart about what I am doing but it was never about contracts.

    "I'm happy with where I am."

    Jennings reaps NRL finals reward with Eels - Nine Wide World of Sports
    Michael Jennings' decision to knock back more money and job security at Newcastle has seen him rewarded wit...
  • Storm back defence to stop rampant Eels

    a day ago


    Melbourne are confident Parramatta won't be able to repeat their dazzling try-scoring feats when they clash in their sudden-death NRL semi-final on Saturday night.

    The Eels ran in 11 tries in their 58-0 thrashing of Brisbane to advance to an AAMI Park meeting with the Storm, who were two-point losers to Canberra.

    Storm captain Cameron Smith says statistics show they are the best defensive team in the NRL and are backing themselves to shut down the Eels.

    As minor premiers Melbourne conceded only 300 points in the regular season - 63 points better than the second-placed Sydney Roosters.

    "The thing that we did do well is defend well," Smith said on Tuesday.


    "Canberra scored a try in the 77th minute of the match on the back of an error where we weren't in great position to defend and up until then they'd scored one try.

    "We're best defensive team in the comp and we've got that result for a reason - we work hard and have a good defensive structure."

    Melbourne gave up their home preliminary final with the loss but Smith can draw on their 2015 heroics of his good mate Johnathan Thurston and his Cowboys for inspiration.

    The then third-placed North Queensland lost their qualifying final but advanced to the grand final by ousting the Storm at AAMI Park in the preliminary final before a golden point win over Brisbane to take the title.

    And in 2008, Smith was part of the Storm team who lost the first week of finals to the Warriors and ended up making the grand final, before being belted by Manly.

    "It's not undoable - losing the first week doesn't mean we can't go past this week and progress further," Smith said.

    "We've got a good footy side - we finished minor premiers so I think we need to take a step back from the disappointment we felt against Canberra and remember that."

    The veteran hooker admitted he was "seething" about the way they played against the Raiders, feeling they had blown some golden attacking opportunities through poor ball control or decision making.

    "Absolutely - yes and rest of team feeling the same way," Smith said.

    "We're really disappointed with the way we played because we know we're a better footy side than the performance we put in and we left some opportunities out on the park.

    "We are up for this challenge - it's not the preferred route but we'll be ready to go."

    Storm back defence to stop rampant Eels - Nine Wide World of Sports
    Melbourne captain Cameron Smith says his team will be able to handle the dangerous Parramatta attack when t...
  • 3563785524?profile=RESIZE_930x

    Parramatta Eels stars repay club legend Peter Sterling's faith in the team

    It’s not so much what Peter Sterling did say, it was more what he didn’t say during the lean times that has endeared him to Parramatta players now hanging off his every word.
    Sterling resisted the temptation to put the boot in during the Eels’ wooden spoon year, providing constructive criticism and measured comment when many were losing their heads over the club’s plight.
    He backed the players and Brad Arthur to pull the blue and gold out of the mire and his backing has been vindicated as Parramatta prepare to take on Melbourne in Saturday night’s elimination semi-final at AAMI Park.      

    Sterlo man hugging and high-fiving Eels players moments after the side’s demolition on Brisbane was one of the great moments of the 2019 season and showed how much the win meant to one of the club’s greatest players.


    Halfback Mitchell Moses has benefitted from one-on-one time with Sterling, who guided the Eels to four premierships in the 1980s. 

    “Sterlo wants to see us succeed – that’s his main thing,” Moses told Sporting News.

    “He backs us 100 per cent - it’s nice to know we’ve got his support – but if some criticism is deserved he will let you know.

    “He will tell you when you’ve done something wrong.

    “You now he’s not lying to your face. When he says something, it means something because of what he’s done in rugby league.

    “He gives me a few pointers every time he sees me. You are always going to listen and learn."

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    Eels skipper Clint Gutherson is the modern day King of Paramatta, but knows the crown is only on loan.

    “Sterlo was the king over here for a long time and helped make the club what it is today,” Gutherson said.

    “He’s always been there for us. He wishes us well. It was always good to see his face around the place.

    “You know it’s not a put on with him. He really loves the place and wants us to do well.”

    Utility player Brad Takairangi added: “He could have put the boot in but there’s been nothing but support.

    “Sterlo and those other Parramatta legends stuck solid through the bad times and hopefully we are creating some good times for them.

    “It was awesome to see how happy he was (after the win over Brisbane).”

    “At the start of the year we talked about wanting to create our own legacy and it is great that we are playing some good footy and making those former players proud.”

  • Feeling lucky: Eels rookie Dylan Brown has that winning feeling

    By Adrian Proszenko
    September 19, 2019 — 6.00pm

    When Dylan Brown pulls on the Parramatta jersey, his team usually wins.

    “The first game I lost in Parra colours was the under 20s grand final,” Brown said.


    Dylan Brown has compiled a phenomenal winning record in the blue and gold jersey.CREDIT:JAMES BRICKWOOD

    “I didn’t lose a game from when I was 15 until then. We just didn’t lose. We lost one of the SG Ball games, but I was out injured.

    “I didn’t lose a game until under 20s. It probably would have been a good 30-odd games. Something like that.”

    Brown’s record in the blue and gold is remarkable. The teenaged playmaker never lost a Harold Matthews or SG Ball match. The record at senior football is also exceptional.

    The Auckland product made his NRL debut in the opening round of the season and a back injury forced him to miss rounds four to 14, a relatively inconsistent period for coach Brad Arthur’s side. His record in first grade currently stands at 10 wins from 14 games, for a 71.4 per cent winning rate.

    His overall strike rate across all grades at Parramatta since shifting from New Zealand as a 15 year old is 48 wins from 61 matches, for a winning percentage of 78.7 per cent.

    It’s form that compares favourably against his contemporaries and has made him Parramatta’s talisman ahead of Saturday night’s elimination final against Melbourne at AAMI Park.

    “Really? That’s not a bad stat to have in the back pocket,” Brown said when informed of his success rate.

    “It’s funny because when I got my debut jersey I became player number 800. Apparently that’s lucky in Chinese (numbers) or something.


    “There’s all this stuff that I’m lucky, but I’m prepared and the opportunity has come and I’ve met it. It’s been fun.”

    Brown’s winning percentage is all the more remarkable given he played rugby union in his native New Zealand through his early teens.

    “I was from the north and we’re not such a strong base in rugby league,” he said.

    “It’s more Auckland where they have more players. We were struggling to get players into a club team, let alone the rep teams.


    “We weren’t winning very often then.”

    One of Brown’s strengths is his ability to get the best out of those around him.

    The 19-year-old has been the perfect foil for Mitchell Moses, allowing his more experienced halfback to run the show. He has also struck up a formidable combination with back-rower Shaun Lane on Parramatta’s left edge.

    Brown believes his winning rate and seamless transition into first grade is the result of the Eels’ strong pathway and development programs.

    “It shows that Parramatta have a clue when it comes to scouting their juniors,” he said.

    “We’ve got a strong club. Someone mentioned at the prizegiving that (elite pathways coaching director) Joey Grima had been his coach from under 15s all the way up.

    “It’s more that everyone is comfortable with who they’ve got, everything stays the same and we have tight bonds.

    “I’ve definitely had some good coaches.”

    Despite his relative inexperience, Brown has quickly fitted in with his Eels teammates.

    “He gets a lot of the older heads geed up,” said prop Junior Paulo.


    “He’s definitely a bit of a character around the boys too. He’s pretty quiet kid who is new to the squad.

    “He’s just got to take his confidence to a new level going into the finals. He’s certainly been doing that and he’s good to have around the squad.

    “He’s definitely keeping the older boys youthful.”

    Dylan Brown career stats

    • 2016: Harold Matthews Cup: Played 10, won 10 (100%)
    • 2017: SG Ball: Played 7, won 7 (100%) National Under-18s Final: Played 1, won 1. Holden Cup: Played 9, won 7 (77.2%)
    • 2018: Jersey Flegg: Played 14, won 9 (64.3%) NSW Cup: Played 5, won 3 (60%)
    • 2019: NRL: Played 10, won 14, lost 4 (71.4%)
    • TOTAL Played 61, won 48, lost 13 (78.7%)

    Source: David Middleton, League Information Services.

    Adrian Proszenko | The Age
    Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.
  • Munster: Why I turned down offer to join Parramatta


    By Christian Nicolussi
    September 19, 2019 — 5.16pm

    Cameron Munster says he passed on joining Parramatta last year because of the chance to lead Melbourne into the post-Cameron Smith era and a desire to stay out of the NRL bubble in Sydney.

    While Munster will go head to head with Parramatta playmaker Mitchell Moses in an elimination final at AAMI Park on Saturday night, it was only 12 months ago that Eels officials sounded out his management about his plans for the 2020 season and beyond.

    Sydney Roosters and North Queensland had been interested in the Queensland State of Origin five-eighth and Parramatta officials, realising that halves Corey Norman and Moses were great individually but not as a combination, also had Munster firmly on the mind.

    Moses' management actually pushed the halfback towards Melbourne but the negotiations on that front barely progressed because of financial reasons.


    Cameron Munster during Melbourne Storm training this week at Gosch's Paddock.CREDIT:AAP

    Munster told the Herald he was flattered by the Eels' approach to him but ultimately signed with the Storm until the end of 2023 with the view to continuing the club's success after Smith retires.

    "Parra were interested," Munster said. "They are a club on the up, there's no doubt about that, and they have some good structure and recruitment. They will be a strong side to play against over the next two or three years.

    "They have young talent coming through with the likes of Dylan Brown playing some good footy.  But I wanted to stay with the Storm. I'm loyal, they gave me my opportunity and I want to try and build a legacy after 'Smithy'.

    "Everyone says when Smithy goes the club will be in a hole. But that's something I want to pride myself on ... when he does go, that this club is in good hands and we have some decent recruitment and players around us.


    "I know [Melbourne] is the best spot for me, and not being in the Sydney media and getting away from the hype around footy in Sydney."

    Munster, who enjoys his golf and anonymity south of the border, said he had a huge respect for Moses, who has "realised how good he can be" and is "in career-best form" ahead of their meeting on Saturday night.

    The 25-year-old said there was no way the Storm could afford to give Moses the room he enjoyed during last Sunday's 58-0 demolition of Brisbane.

    Munster has done a remarkable job at five-eighth given Brodie Croft, Ryley Jacks and now Jahrome Hughes have all been used at halfback since Cooper Cronk finished up with the club two years ago. Hughes has been used at halfback so Ryan Papenhuyzen can play at fullback.


    "I told Jahrome he just needs to play his role and game and that's him running the ball and being a threat with the ball in his hands," Munster said.

    "He creates something out of nothing the majority of the time. He just needs to back himself more and not worry about the number on his back.

    "He's strong in contact and somehow weaves his way through traffic and breaks tackles. He's not a big bloke, but when he does those things at fullback or halfback it gives you a lift in energy. Fingers crossed he does that this weekend and can cause some havoc for the Eels' edge."

    Christian Nicolussi | The Age
    Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.
  • Eels and Sea Eagles need to do things by halves

    By Peter Sterling
    September 19, 2019 — 8.00pm

    How do you react when you have comfortably won an elimination final, but have another in quick succession?

    First and foremost, like all victories, you enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done. That begins immediately in the sheds with teammates in the afterglow of a successful performance. I would follow that with dinner and a few drinks with family and friends, where football would be the last topic of conversation.

    Then, as my old coach Jack Gibson would say, "winning begins on Monday".

    Both Manly and Parramatta know that to be any chance of keeping their giant-killing run going, it will depend on how they re-focus and prepare for very different propositions against Souths and Melbourne respectively.


    Remarkably, last week both the Sea Eagles and Eels had pretty much wrapped up their contests by half-time with leads of 14 and 24 points respectively. That won't be the case this week.

    Parramatta make the tough road trip to AAMI Park to take on a Storm outfit who have not lost consecutive matches all season. It would be a devastating blow for the home side to have won the minor premiership by six points but then bow out of the finals in straight sets.

    The Eels have every right to go south of the border a confident football team. Their win over Brisbane was dominant, but such showings are notoriously difficult to reproduce. There is no doubt that Parra love an afternoon clash on a dry ground as it suits their ability to move the ball and their opposition around. A Saturday night on a dewy surface in Melbourne presents a tougher arena to do so. They will need to modify their game to some degree, but their overall approach cannot change.

    From the opening whistle they attacked the Broncos aggressively, with and without the football. The return of Nathan Brown certainly helped in that pursuit. To nullify the likes of Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Jesse Bromwich the Eels must again hunt as a pack.


    Coach Brad Arthur will again have them primed to start the game as energetically and high tempo as possible. This is something the Storm have struggled to do in recent weeks and if there is a chink in their armour it is being the slower team out of the blocks.

    In round nine the Storm beat the Eels 64-10 in what proved to be the most "un-Magic" of rounds for Parramatta. Arthur will not have needed to remind his players of that embarrassment, losses like that are carried deep in the soul and never forgotten.

    Daly Cherry-Evans holds the key to Manly's finals chances against South Sydney.CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES

    The Sea Eagles will also approach their contest with South Sydney in the same manner as they did Cronulla last week. In fact, how they have every match this season: with great resilience and resolve. Despite the loss of in-form, key players, they did not miss a beat against a Cronulla side that boasted a wealth of talent and experience.

    Front-rower Addin Fonua-Blake was a shining example of a player recognising that extra would be needed from every individual and going out and delivering. His work in tandem with Marty Taupau in 2019 has been the cornerstone to much of the Eagles' success through their go-forward and domination in the middle of the ruck. To have his partner in crime back this week from suspension will instil even more confidence through the entire squad.

    Daly Cherry-Evans holds the key to Manly's finals chances against South Sydney.

    The same can be said for the Rabbits and the return of their spiritual leader in Sam Burgess. The clash of those titans will be an important factor as to which team can gain the ascendancy.

    However, I see the battle of the halves as being the most significant encounter.

    Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans is in sublime touch and showing why the club made such an expensive and long-term investment in the playmaker. His game management and execution is spot on and will only continue to get better.

    Coach Des Hasler's decision to complement Daly's game with a running five-eighth in Dylan Walker has also been a winner. The acid test is on both Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker to find their early season form if they are to guide their team into a grand final qualifier.


    "So here we go again, Manly and Parra", only this time not against each other.

    Peter Sterling | The Age
    Peter Sterling is a Parramatta great and a commentator for Channel Nine
  • Storm v Eels: Guest coaches Kimmorley and Renouf go head to head

    Fri 20 Sep 2019, 09:01 AM experts Brett Kimmorley and Steve Renouf have donned their coaching caps and provided a rundown of what it will take to win, who the key players are and their all-important final instructions.

    Renouf has put himself in Craig Bellamy's shoes for Friday night's duel, while Kimmorley has the clipboard for the Eels.


    Plan of attack




    We have to play our game, our style and not get caught up playing the way Parramatta want to play. We want to dominate the middle before we go to our edges and tire out their forwards. Munster and Smith will obviously play key roles and we need to give some space to our speedsters like Addo-Carr and Papenhuyzen.





    The plan for us is to keep those long passes going like we did last weekend. We played with wonderful width between my nine, seven and six, and we really moved the Broncos' defensive line around. We don't want to get in the arm wrestle with Melbourne. We want to play upbeat football and move the ball from edge to edge because that's where I think we might be able to expose the Storm and wear them out by having to continuously fill positions defensively.


    Plan in defence




    Parramatta will try to do to us what they did to Brisbane so our boys have to make sure we keep tight in the middle and watch our edges, and we have to be wary of that switch of play because they play both sides really well. We want to get up in their face and cut their time down, and we can't let Junior Paulo run amok like he did last week.




    We need to be really good on their back five because Vunivalu and Addo-Carr start sets off so well for them. If they get a roll going forward then you have to defend Jesse Bromwich and Asofa-Solomona going backwards, which is quite a tough ask. Our kick-chase is a key and our first few tackles of each set are really important, and we have to be really focused with our discipline. We can't be lazy in defence and get caught offside because Melbourne will make us pay for it.


    My key player




    Cameron Smith. He's done it all before in the biggest games and once again a lot depends on him. He knows he has that responsibility on his shoulders and doesn't hide from it. Sometimes he looks like he's coaching and playing, so he's going to have to go out there and "coach" the team on the field and lead on both fronts.




    Mitchell Moses. Can he stay composed in the biggest game of his career? His player involvement, his ability to stay in the game, his consistency with passing and kick selections – all those things have been first class in 2019. But no team puts you under more pressure than Melbourne with their pressure defensively and ability to take time away from you, so this week is his greatest challenge.


    The opposition danger man




    Mitch Moses. He was on fire last week and really did the job for them. He followed up the work Paulo did in the middle and dominated in his own right. He's in very good form and playing confidently so we certainly need to shut him down.




    Cameron Munster. If we allow him to play a bit of football and he gets into a running mood, he'll come up with some threats and options through his kicking and passing and he becomes very hard to contain. It's generally Cameron Munster or Cameron Smith who are the two keys in attack. Not much football comes on the right edge for the Storm – the left edge attack is their go-to edge and Smith and Munster is where that ball goes.

    We will win if we ...




    We need to tie up the middle and play to our strengths. We have ways of doing things and it's a matter of sticking to it. We can't let Parramatta get into their groove like they did last week. If we win the wrestle we'll win the game.



    If we can back ourselves and play football we're a great chance. If we go to Melbourne and get nervous and just do hit-ups and try to force off-loads without creating momentum, we won't beat them at their style. We have to play with lots of energy and support, and lots of shape in attack. If we can do that our energy levels will stay high for 80 minutes.

    Final message




    Let's not get caught out like we did last week. Let's keep it simple and play our game, and do what we train for all week. Make sure we stick to that and not let ourselves play any different.



    Don't let Melbourne bully you around. Get in their face, play a physical brand of football and have great discipline. Play with a lot of energy, confidence and belief in yourselves.

    Breaking NRL news, scores, team lists, squads, casualty ward, injury news, trades news, judiciary, draft news
  • 3577667118?profile=RESIZE_930x

    Manu's journey from ex-con to X-factor

    Margie McDonaldSenior Reporter
    Fri 20 Sep 2019, 04:08 PM
    Margie McDonald

    Manu Ma'u arrived at Parramatta a young man with a reputation.

    He grew up in the gang culture in Auckland's suburbs and spent almost a year in jail as an 18-year-old on assault charges stemming from gang violence.

    But now he is preparing to leave the Eels as a respected senior player, a father to sons Melino and Levi, a Test footballer. And a man with a heavy heart.

    "I love this club. They mean an awful lot to me," Ma'u told as the Eels prepare to face the Storm in Saturday night's elimination semi-final at AAMI Park.

    "I just want to give my all, give everything I've got left for the team … every last drop until I leave."

    Ma'u still has a reputation, by the way. Alongside Manly's Jorge Taufua he is probably the player no-one wants to run at.

    He didn't intend to set himself up as one of the game's enforcers. But he did want to stop players in their tracks at the defensive line.

    "Everyone knew who I was coming from New Zealand and I was an ex-con. It was a reputation that everyone built themselves about me.

    "I just added the physical side to it more on the field."

    Ma'u made his debut in round one of 2014 against the NZ Warriors. His work rate in the second row and second-phase abilities earner him a Tonga Test jumper in 2015. He then was picked by the Kiwis for six Tests in 2016 before he returned to Tonga for the 2017 World Cup.

     All the while he has played over 100 games for the Eels.

    "I came here as a young man with a troubled past. And I leave an older, wiser man, a family man, and one proud to be an Eel," he said.

    "I've learned a lot at this club. I've made terrific friends, whose company I've enjoyed so much.

    "I'm definitely going to miss this place."

    Ma'u, his partner and two sons, are off to Hull FC in Super League but he will never forget his past 12 months at the Eels as the side has gone from wooden spoon to semi-finals.

    "We boys went away at the end of last season and had a really, hard look at ourselves," Ma'u said.

    "We went away on a camp and we spoke about all this. We got to know each other more as we addressed the issues of why we came last.

    "We spoke about the team we wanted to be this year. All the boys have worked so hard to get to this stage. We put into practice the type of team we wanted to be.

    "We haven't come to the end of it yet."

    Breaking NRL news, scores, team lists, squads, casualty ward, injury news, trades news, judiciary, draft news
  • Why Maika Sivo was a laughing stock at Parramatta's pre-season training

    10 hours ago

    Just a few short years ago any suggestions that Maika Sivo would be two games away from an NRL grand final appearance would have been met with astonishment.

    "No way, I wouldn't have believed it," Sivo tells Wide World of Sports.

    The 25-year-old has become an instant cult hero for Parramatta this season, the flying Fijian-born winger captivating fans with his remarkable natural ability.

    Sure, his teammates joke that he hasn't quite mastered the subtle nuances of the game, the minute details that only come with years of experience.

    But with 22 tries in his rookie season, just four years after arriving on Australian soil, Sivo has turned himself into one of the stars of the game.


    A rugby union player when he was growing up, Sivo only switched to rugby league after a chance meeting.

    "I played rugby union until 2014. The first rugby league I played was in Gundagai in 2015," Sivo said.

    "I'm from the village of Momi in Fiji, and our rugby union coach in the village met a couple from Gundagai when they were over in Fiji, and they brought them back to the village.

    "That was Don and Kathy Tuckwell, and it was in 2013.

    "We spent most of 2014 trying to get a visa to come to Australia. The visa was so hard.

    "But four of us from the village came to play in Gundagai in 2015, and then I played for Mounties and St Marys before Parramatta."

    Comparisons to another Fijian winger who starred for Parramatta are inevitable, but Sivo says he's never spoken to Semi Radradra, who scored 82 tries in 94 games for the Eels, before leaving in 2017.

    But the pair might have more in common than just their heritage, if Sivo can continue his tryscoring exploits this weekend, and possibly further if the Eels can continue their winning ways. Just two more tries will see Sivo equal Radradra's record of 24 tries in a season for Parramatta, while also making Sivo the most prolific tryscorer in a debut season since Larry Corowa in 1978.

    Eels halfback Mitchell Moses says Sivo has been a breath of fresh air for the club.

    "Obviously everyone knows what Semi did here, and how good he was, to have Maika come here and do similar things is very exciting for Parramatta," Moses told Wide World of Sports.
    Maika Sivo scores in Parramatta's big win over Brisbane. (Getty)

    "Hopefully he's here for many years to come.

    "He's been massive this year. To see how much he's learned, it's incredible to think he only made his debut in round one.

    "We're loving having him in our side at the moment, we've probably got the best wingers in the comp when it comes to coming out of the backfield."

    Rugby league legend Andrew Johns is one who can testify that Sivo is still coming to grips with the code, but the eighth Immortal says the future is very bright for the 25-year-old.

    "I was talking to Michael Jennings at the start of the year, and I was watching him off the ball, and at scrums he would be talking to him, he said he still doesn't understand the rules," Johns said in a recent edition of Immortal Behaviour.

    "The first day of off-season training, they were doing a scrimmage, he (Sivo) gets tackled and he puts the ball behind him, like rugby union. They all burst out laughing.

    "He's been the find of the year, a great story.

    "The crowd chanting his name is just so infectious, the atmosphere, it inspires his teammates."
    Maika Sivo has been the find of the season according to Andrew Johns. (Getty)

    The Eels have put last year's wooden spoon well and truly behind them, thrashing Brisbane 58-0 in the opening week of the finals series.

    It sets up a clash with minor premiers Melbourne, with reigning champions the Roosters also standing between the Eels and a grand final appearance.

    Having already recorded the club's first victory in a final since 2009, the current crop of players have the chance to write a new chapter in Parramatta's history, as the club seeks its first premiership since 1986.

    "I didn't even know that until a couple of weeks ago!" Sivo says with a laugh.

    "We've spoken a lot about believing in ourselves, and making sure we've got each other's backs.

    "But 33 years? Wow. That's amazing."

    But not nearly as amazing as a kid from a remote Fijian village becoming one of the game's biggest stars.

    Brett Graham, Sports Journalist | Meet the Team | Wide World of Sports
    Read the latest stories by Brett Graham, Sports Journalist at Nine Wide World of Sports
  • Eels pay tribute to departing vet Mannah

    an hour ago


    Barring a front-row crisis he's unlikely to feature in his beloved Eels jumper again, but Tim Mannah's Parramatta teammates insist he remains a driving force during this NRL finals series.

    When the Eels take on Melbourne at AAMI Park for a place in an NRL preliminary final on Saturday, Mannah will be 850kms away with feeder side Wentworthville for their NSW Cup finals clash with South Sydney.

    The revered figure who stuck solid through the club's dark period over the last decade - which included three wooden spoons - was formally farewelled at the Eels' end-of-season function and faces an uncertain future.

    But the likes of Manu Ma'u and Kane Evans said he remained the "heart and soul" of the Eels even though he was no longer in their top 17.

    "We train against Wenty, he's still vocal, you can still hear him talk," Ma'u said.


    "He's still a leader at this club, everyone's got a lot of respect for Timmy, he's going to be missed. He is the heart and soul.

    "If you know him personally, he's got a heart of gold and will do anything for you, he will literally take his shirt off back."

    Mannah debuted in 2009, playing in their grand final appearance that year and has been a loyal servant ever since.

    But the four-time NSW Origin representative is set to be squeezed out and has yet to announce his plans for next year.

    He requested a release to join the Wests Tigers in June, only to perform an about-face and remain but hasn't been sighted in first grade since then.

    "His influence is still there," Evans said.

    "I don't think any of us would be where we are without him. He leads us in work ethic. He's the man."

    If the Eels beat Melbourne Mannah is unlikely to be seen in first grade again this season barring Brad Arthur's side being struck by an injury crisis in the forwards.

    But such is the respect he has from his teammates that they spoke of their hope of him receiving one final game.

    "When I signed here, he was the first to text me and welcome me into the club," Evans said.

    "He's helped me learn to much about my role as a front-rower. He's the heart and soul of this place.

    "If he got a chance to play this finals series, that'd be the dream. That'd be the perfect send off. We love Timmy and he's still leading by example."

    Eels pay tribute to departing vet Mannah - Nine Wide World of Sports
    Parramatta insist departing club captain Tim Mannah remains a driving force despite being unlikely to featu...
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