Parramatta Eels five-eighth Dylan Brown has conceded the Eels were a bit “overwhelmed” by the atmosphere of grand final week in the aftermath of their disappointing grand final loss to the Penrith Panthers.
It was a masterclass from the Panthers and an uncharacteristic showing by the Eels on Sunday. But much like Penrith after they lost the 2020 Grand Final, Brown and his team mates know they can build on this year's success.
“The week was very overwhelming, I'm not going to lie,” Brown told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“It was full on with a lot of media and everything.
“But it is what it is, finals footy. It was good to see all the Parra fans get up. I live out west so the hype around everything, it shows there's more than just winning.
But despite being able to find some silver linings, Brown couldn't hide the pain of defeat.
“Honestly, I'm gutted,” he admitted.
“You've got to be at your best in big games and we weren't. You've got to be 10 times better than they are, and we weren't.”
Though Brown was one of a number of Eels to experience a tough night on Sunday, he's still able to find plenty of positives when taking a wider view of the entire season.
“Last year I was disappointed with how I played,” Brown said.
“I was below average and that's not acceptable being an NRL player. I took time to work on my game and take (being an NRL player) as a responsibility rather than an honour.”
While Brown's re-application was a telling factor in the Eels' remarkable season, the Eels must now prepare to start again in 2023 – and their co-captain says they won't be lacking in inspiration to go one better.
“You'd like to think this feeling gives you a lot of motivation,” Clint Gutherson told the Herald.
“None of us have felt like this. It makes you want to get back here and even a few of the Penrith boys said that, that it was a lot of motivation for them when they lost a couple of years ago.
“We're losing a couple of great players but whoever steps up is going to do a good job for us.
“We'll (look) back at what we achieved as a team and as a club and as people this year. Not many people gave us a chance to get to the grand final five or six weeks ago – to prove them wrong is pretty good.”