NRL Rd 8 - Eels v Cowboys
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 03: Reed Mahoney of the Eels passes during the round eight NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys at Bankwest Stadium on July 03, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

One of the last men to taste premiership glory for Parramatta in Peter Sterling has singled out utility Will Smith as the one to help them end their 35-year drought.

Following the bombshell news that star player Reed Mahoney will miss the remainder of season 2021 after re-injuring his left shoulder, the Eels are set to call up Joey Lussick to plug the gap left by the 23-year-old.

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However, speaking on Nine's Wide World of Sports, Sterling has said that the 29-year-old Smith must be included in Brad Arthur's starting 17 in order for the Eels to play their best football.

"I think Will Smith needs to be part of the 17 every week ... whether that's to cover the halves or to come on around dummy-half and buzz," Sterling exclaimed on Wide World of Sports.

"I think he's an integral part of what they need to produce now with Reed Mahoney out of the side."

Mahoney cemented his place in the side in 2019 where he played every game for the club, and has since made 73 appearances in total for the Eels following his debut in 2018.

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The hooker's first Maroons inclusion in this years Origin was cruelly stripped away from him off the back of the initial injury to his left shoulder, and the re-aggravation of the problem is almost catastrophic for the Eels as their overall form starts to slide.

Arthur's side have lost three on the trot and are now in genuine danger of dropping out of the top four should their trajectory continue.

Mahoney's intended replacement Joey Lussick hasn't been a regular in Parramatta's side this season with the 25-year-old only managing five appearances so far - two of them being off the bench.

Despite Lussick being the natural solution to the problem, Sterling feels that the 25-year-old might not have what it takes to fill the void.

"Joey Lussick, I'm assuming, will come in. And he did a great job (in the games he played during Mahoney's absence)," Sterling said.

"The thing about Joey is that while he's solid – really good defender, gives good service from dummy-half – is he probably doesn't offer what Reed has established in the attacking side of the game.

"Joey will come in and do a good job but he just won't do the job that has Reed Mahoney established in his time in the top grade."

Parramatta desperately need a win to get their year back on track and this week against bitter rivals Manly could be what they need after three straight losses.

However it's still unclear how they will travel without Mahoney's attacking presence and there is no question that coach Brad Arthur has a huge task on his hands to inspire his team.