Generation next the key at Parra

Corey Norman and Jarryd Hayne have been moved on. Can the young guns step up?

Dan Nicholls

February 27, 2019 - 2:30 pm

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 08: Mitchell Moses and Clint Gutherson speak as they warm-up ahead of a Parramatta Eels NRL training session at the Old Saleyards Reserve on May 8, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

I say this with no enjoyment but the Parramatta Eels are entering the 2019 season without many expectations.
Having finished last in 2018 and having failed to recruit an immediate season-changing half or forward, the Eels aren’t among the fancied teams this year.

Blake Ferguson is a huge in but the Eels desperation to replace Semi Radradra with a like-minded player seems to have distracted them elsewhere.
That said not all hope is lost for the famous blue and gold.

In a few seasons times we may be looking back at 2019 as the season the Eels started their ascent back to finals footy on the back of their young stars.
For the life of me, I don’t understand why the Eels are looking to spend their new found salary cap space on a 31-year-old Issac Luke.

With the greatest of respects to the former Kiwi number nine, who had a magnificent 2018, if I were the Eels I would be throwing everything behind Reed Mahoney.
Mahoney doesn’t have the pedigree of Luke but this Eels side is not going to challenge for the title, why stunt the development of a brilliant young number nine in favour of a player who will likely only play one or two seasons.

Sound familiar Eels fans?

Last season the Eels pushed aside the likes of Bevan French to cater for a clearly past his best Jarryd Hayne. French is now a reserve grader while Hayne is knocking around in a local rugby competition.
That’s certainly not to say that Luke’s season will follow the same route but my support would be behind the 20-year-old Mahoney rather than a stop-gap measure.
The moving on of Corey Norman has freed up considerable cap space and it should not be wasted on the first player who came up on the market.

The Eels need to invest in generation next: Reed Mahoney, Dylan Brown and Jaeman Salmon.
The aforementioned Mahoney already has nine NRL games to his name and looked set to enter 2019 as the Eels lead option at hooker. The former Queensland under 20s number nine had shown plenty in his debut season.

Mahoney now has a full off-season under his belt in the first-grade squad. That means a full off-season running plays and more importantly bulking up in the gym.
For mine he has shown enough in his young career, he deserves a shot at proving he is the long-term option.

He may be the long-term option regardless of any potential Luke signing but is it really worth investing big money into a 50-minute hooker, while stunting Mahoney’s development?
Dylan Brown, despite not making his NRL debut yet, was the target of a multi-million dollar raid from the Warriors.

Given the departure of Corey Norman, the Eels are now looking for a number six or seven to partner Mitch Moses in the halves. Brown now looks like the best option.
His closest challenger comes in the form of Jaemon Salmon. The 20-year-old looked to have the edge due to having already played 5 games at the top level. An off-field incident combined with Brown’s natural skills seemed to have shifted the pecking order.

Salmon will miss the opening game of the season but has been rumoured to be spending some time at centre meaning he may replace the supposed out of favour Michael Jennings.
With two 20-year-old talented kids and a hugely regarded 18-year-old half in their run on side, perhaps all is not so bad our Parramatta way.

Daniel Alvaro had a break out 2018 season and looks set to lead a big Eels pack into battle. The returning Junior Paulo rounds out a massive front row.
Shaun Lane, Manu Ma;u and Nathan Brown round out a monster pack that should set a platform for the Eels young stars.
With Ferguson, Gutherson and Jennings (x2) at their disposal, the young play-makers should have plenty of weapons at their disposal too.
It’s not a side likely to challenge the Roosters, Bunnies or Storm, but there are some real positives here to be focused upon.

I wouldn’t be throwing that away for a one-season quick fix.

Whether or not the Eels have the guile and bravery to back their youngsters is another question altogether.
Bevan French burst onto the scene and looked like the game’s next superstar only to be shifted around the back line to the point he no longer makes the run on side.

 don’t want to see that happen to the three current Eels youngsters.
Don’t me wrong, if a player of real quality comes on the market, the Eels should pounce, but not at the expense of their future stars.
Brown looks to have a huge future, Mahoney has looked the goods, and Salmon has plenty of talent despite his off-field mistake.
Once the suspension is served I really hope to see all three of these kids running out for the Eels for the foreseeable future.
There’s plenty to like about the 2019 Eels but perhaps its worth looking to the future rather than going for a quick fix.

You need to be a member of 1Eyed Eel to add comments!

Join 1Eyed Eel

Votes: 0
Email me when people reply –


  • It's vital that the Eels give this great bunch of juniors a real go this season. We have all known for many many years that the best Eels juniors seem to be snapped up by other clubs while we buy their older players in the hope of getting sucess. Gus realised this very issue with Penrith & put in his plan 5 odd years ago. They now have a team of juniors ready to challenge for a premiership & that should be what the Eels look to do. Our strength is our juniors so lets utilise it correctly.

    • Fully agree with you coach but BA's dilema is a real one as well - how do you balance giving juniors a go and risk a poor win/lose record this year with the need to win games and not risk being sacked? 

      • Axel, If you read this article and then line it up with the other one that is on Gutho focussed on making life easier for BA and not new deal, If, & I have no reason to doubt what he is saying there either, this year should be one that takes us forward.

        We wont be premiership winners but we will be close to the 8 or in the bottom of the 8 at least, with the number of players off contract end of this year and at least half not to be extended, there is a big start or beginning of a new era. This will very much depend on the players as a whole and group, they are the ones who follow or not the game plan and how well they play in that area or not.

        All the coaching team can do all they can, but for 80 minutes on game day it then comes down to the players as to how they perform.

        I would also suggest come mid year if some of the top 30 are not performing then the allowance of the development 6 if they are performing they will come in and displace the non performers, whether as a whole or some of them. They will have to lift in the ISPcomp to demonstrate they are capable and able to play  NRL.

        I don't expect to see a huge variation in play with the Penrith trial either, rather we will keep things simple and work for the premiership opener,


    • Coach Jim, well said. Fully agree. We have about 4-6 juniors worthy of a gamble this year.

      I also remember Phil, our 1Eyed founder, implying that Athur was going to go fully all-junior ballsy this year. More than ever. This gave me optimism that Arthur was going to be less conservative this year and try a few things.

      In the past he's seemed inclined to stick with the experienced guys as much as possible, even if they haven't really performed and some are probably well past their best.

      The evidence from the trial lists suggests Arthur is continuing in a similar conservative fashion; and we're only going to partially dipping our feet with juniors in top grade. At least at the onset. I hope I'm wrong and Arthur decides to be courageous and experiment more.

      • HOE, so far ww have only seen a single trial and a few new faces in that mix, we will likely see a few more on show against Penrith trial but don't see a lot of changes in that game rather they will happen as they play Penrith in round one, then we get a better feel for the year.

        • Colin, good response. You're probably right and you make sense. Let's hope so. 

          • Too True mate.

  • I don't think French was pushed aside for Hayne at all. French got first crack at the 1 and failed dismally several times. He then went to the wing and was terrible there as well. Meanwhile Hayne ended up our leading try scorer, despite being hampered by injury early on and missing games. Whatever you may think of Hayne, there is absolutely no doubt he is a class player and has achieved everything bar a premiership. He was, and probably still is, several classes above French in the talent stakes - just a shame he fails badly in the areas of being a normal human being.

    • Yes and the author has not addressed the fact we are very skinny for hookers to cover for Mahoney. Next in line is a utility only. Maybe we should be looking for a backup hooker rather than a frontline player.

      • The money talked about for Luke is what a capable back up hooker would cost so he would be better option then unproven or average hooker.  If Luke has to fight for game time it could bring out best of both of them. 

        Being a specialist position we definetly need another hooker in top 30 or have to risk Will Smith being our only option.  With the addition of Paulo, Lane and Fergo our go foward will improve so Mahoney and Luke could both play at same time similar to what other sides have done with the extra hooker running on edges or on support runner role.  Luke is good defender and has ability to put larger fowards on their backside with solid tackles as well so could easily play role of lock or 2nd rower for limited minutes.

This reply was deleted.

More stuff to read

Tad replied to Fandango's discussion Reed backflips announces he will stay a Eel
"I am a sucker for these types of blogs. I like to believe people when they say something . Maybe too trusting. I don,t understand why we have to spend all this time wondering if it is true when the author knows that it is not true. .Fandango what do…"
7 minutes ago
Parra Dice replied to Fandango's discussion Reed backflips announces he will stay a Eel
"Fergo was good at backflips, Reed not so much, his legs are too short. "
10 minutes ago
Randy Handlinger replied to Fandango's discussion Reed backflips announces he will stay a Eel
"Ouch, solid fucking twat! 
That sex-doll full of medical waste you breastfeed from, you know, the one you cry on when you jizz your knickers watching The Bachelor.
That sex-doll deserves a better class of company than you."
17 minutes ago
Snake replied to Fandango's discussion Reed backflips announces he will stay a Eel
"Why was the only good blog to read on here, with any traffic at all, the covid vaccine blog shut dowm?
Its so typical, just ridiculous, cant even talk about the biggest topic in the world on here and its the off season.
21 minutes ago