BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 24: Semi Radradra of the Eels is congratulated by team mates after scoring a try during the round 25 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium on August 24, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Predicted Finish: 10th

Actual Finish: 4th

Best Performer: Clinton Gutherson

I’ll cop some heat here not going with Mitchell Moses or Semi Radradra, but for mine, Clinton Gutherson was the Eels best all season. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to injury, but the Parra utility went from being Mr Fix It to a genuine superstar in 2017. 11 tries, 14 line breaks and five try assists are top line stats, made even more impressive by the fact he only played 18 games and was shifted positions multiple times. The five-eighth turned centre turned fullback lit up the competition in each and every position he was asked to play. He will probably start in the number one in 2018, but wherever he plays, Eels fans will hope he can continue his 2017 form.

Season Highlight: Round 25: 52-34 win over Brisbane

Eels fans probably enjoyed the round one win over bitter rivals Manly more than any other this season, but for mine, the thumping win away to Brisbane was the highlight for the blue and golds. Needing to win in front of a huge Brisbane crowd to ensure a top-four finish, the Eels did just that, and in style. The Broncos themselves were flying and needed to beat the Eels to claim a top two position, but they were played off the park in one of the most exciting games of the season. Semi Radradra scored four tries, including some absolute stunners, as the Eels ran up over a half-century of points away from home. From the very first play, a dropped ball by the Broncos that turned into an Eels try, Parramatta took charge, and despite conceding 34 points, were well worth the two competition points.

Best Signing: Jarryd Hayne

Say what you want re Hayne’s stint in the Gold Coast, but the incumbent NSW centre is still a megastar of the game. The move back to the Eels will surely bring out the best in Hayne for multiple reasons. Firstly he will be closer to his family which should provide him with a far more stable environment. Secondly, he was over-relied upon while at the Titans. The Eels have a far more balanced side and play the kind of game that will suit him. I can’t see him pipping Gutherson or French to the number one jersey, but a full season at centre should really allow Hayne to run riot. There is nothing he can’t do, and when focused, Hayne is among the games best. He has his detractors, but few can deny his abilities.

SEE ALSO:  Updated Team Lists: Sea Eagles vs Roosters

Positives

Set up for title tilt: During the salary cap drama, a premiership looked a decade away. Fast forward to the end of 2017 and suddenly it feels really close. The Eels have an all-star back line, a quality halves pairing and a fearsome forward pack. They also have a very clever coach who seems to be able to extract the best from his players in Brad Arthur. His major headaches seem to be centred around how he can fit all his stars into the one side. Not a bad ‘problem’ to have.

Brilliant buys: The Eels recruited exceptionally well over the past year or so. Nathan Brown was the stand out signing. He was a bit-part player at the Bunnies, and a troubled one at that, but has established himself as one of the game’s elite lock forwards. There’s a genuine chance the 24-year-old can push for rep honours in the not too distant future. Mitch Moses also proved to be a brilliant pick up following his mid-season shift from the Tigers. He was playing without confidence in Tiger Town but looks a completely different person in blue and gold. Siosia Vave and Kirisome Auva’a also played their part.

SEE ALSO:  There's a fair bit of pressure on Farah: Seibold

Same squad: Semi Radradra aside, the Eels managed to hold onto the huge majority of their squad moving forward. Hayne and Semi are really a straight swap and everything else stays the same. Obviously, they’ll need to shuffle to move Hayne to centre, but the settled nature of the squad is a huge plus. The Cowboys have enjoyed three years of great success on the back of a large unchanged playing roster. The Eels will hope for the same.

Season Grading: A

I’ll admit it, I didn’t see this Eels side doing a whole lot of damage in 2017. I didn’t think they had the forwards or the halves, but in Nathan Brown and Mitchell Moses, the Eels added two cogs in what they hope will ultimately be a machine then delivers a premiership.

Gutherson was the star, but Radradra scored 17 tries and made an incredible 21 line breaks. Some of the tries he scored have to be seen to be believed. Bevan French is one of the game’s most exciting youngsters and seemed to take his relegation to the wing in stride.

Nathan Brown was arguably the buy of the season. He helped completely transform the Eels pack. That said the likes of Ma’u and co are hardly a soft pack of forwards. Brown just plugged the gap in the middle that saw the Eels exposed in 2016.

The Eels came within a whisker of knocking off the Storm in round one of the finals. Had they managed to win that game, they would have been favourites to capture the title for mine. Unfortunately, they went out the next weekend to the late storming Cowboys.

Playing in the second week of finals is always a win in my books, but the style in which Parra did it just makes that achievement all the more memorable.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Coach – excellent
    Player biff – toughness – fitness 100%.

    I wrote before whereas i thought they would be top 4 and be a chance to go all the way to the GF, maybe not win it but at least be there.
    I think they have a massive hole in loosing Radradra who scored 17 tries for the season. If Hayne can settle down and get back to his best he will cover somewhat of that deficit. If Hayne doesn’t settle down he will be a bad distraction for the club…

  2. Yep. I agree Radradra is a true superstar of the game and will be missed at the eels.
    Deserved top 4.
    No doubting BAs ability to coach a team and i expect they will improve in 2018.

      • If Semi returns to the NRL, Iā€™m sure Roosters can shed a reserve grade player and use his money to sign Semi one million dollars and stay below the cap.

        • There is actually still talk that SBW is coming back so it wouldn’t surprise me. Just HOW many players can the Roosters expect to sign for $900K – $1 mill and still think it is reasonable to claim that their team is salary cap compliant? It beggars belief. No doubt these were all kids that spent most of their kindergarten days trying to bang square pegs into round holes! Young Nick Politis probably just sawed off the edges. šŸ˜‰

  3. WHAT? No sign of “the 3 amigos” or the supporting bed of eels? I thought you all would be celebrating your “A”-chievement?

    • Well, the “3 wise men” are busy following the star this time of year, and given we’re Parra supporters, we’ve got too many to choose from.

      • nice work mighty šŸ™‚
        unlike other supporters, we prefer to be humble and not push our own barrow too much.
        In saying that, 2017 was a better season than I had expected. My pre-season prediction would be if we finished 6th it would have been a successful year after what 2016 brought, 8th if being less optimistic/realistic and 12th if one or two things didn’t go the right way. So to finish the regular season in 4th spot and make it to week two of the finals was a tick in the box.
        2018 and 2019 should and need to be better – not so much in finishing position on the ladder, but more the development of greater consistency across the season, from game to game and also in moment to moment. There is a big gap between the best and worst performances and one you don’t see so much with the Storm, Cowboys etc.
        The loss of Semi is a big one, but I am hopeful and reasonably confident that the prodigal son will turn in some performances that will go some way to offsetting Semi’s departure.
        2018 will be a big year for Brown, Moses, Moeroa, C King and the return of the King. I would love to see Ray Stone and either Faainga or Niukore make their debut in 2018. 2018 will also likely see the retirement of the warhorse Scott.

        • Bahahahahahahahaha, billy don’t you realise mate that people who call themselves humble never are. Classic! The Eels did well and deserved their success but there are many teams that have good seasons one year and then cannot reproduce this the following year. This was the case with the Raiders and the Panthers this year although the Panthers hit some form late in the competition. Next year will be a different story for the Panthers I think. They will be tough to beat, despite their coach.

          Oh mighty, that isn’t a star mate it’s the Hayne plane’s landing lights, best be careful and keep your distance it looks like it is about to crash! Bahahahahahahahaha

  4. We didn’t win the premiership so there can be no other score than F.
    As for next year we have lost Semi who is irreplaceable and we have bought back the princess who will destroy the team harmony.
    Predicted finish in 2018 – 12th

    • That’s a little harsh Kev, surely? The Eels have to build towards that goal. The same thing happened to Souths in 2013. They were in white hot form going into the finals but things started to unravel. They did learn from that and carried the memories, the pain and the disappointment as added motivation and focus going into 2014. By the finals they were primed, just ask the Roosters who only got 2 tries at the death because Souths had stopped playing. Keep the faith Kev. After all some team has to play the Roosters in the 2018 GF so why can’t it be the Eels? šŸ˜‰

  5. Loosing Semi is huge and i cant see how that can be covered.So many sets he took it up the first and often a second hit in the same set and with intent.Sorry but i cant see that being covered on there roster and Parra making the 8 next year will be a fair placing.In all honesty they had the bounce of the ball in so many ways to make the 4 this year

Comments are closed.