Parramatta Eels 2017 season review

Eddie Otto Roar Pro

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    The Eels headed into 2017 fresh off the salary cap controversy which cost the club 12 competition points and a finals berth.

    With the departure of high-profile signing Kieran Foran, Brad Arthur would be charged with re-motivating a team that played some good football in 2016, without the reward of playing finals, despite winning 13 games.

    Overall it was a memorable season for Eels fan with the side making the finals for the first time since 2009.

    Season Finish – 4th, exited second round of Finals (Regular Season – 16 Wins, 8 Losses, 496 Points For, 457 Points Against)

    Season Ranking 9/10 – I think Parramatta did an outstanding job this season to finish in 4th spot, despite going out in straight sets in the finals. They played a hard-nosed, physical brand of football, which was extremely competitive and effective most weeks.

    The side also contained plenty of strike power, and could rack up big scores when they were on song, with their halves combination of Corey Norman and Mitch Moses flourishing as the season went on, and Big Semi Radradra causing havoc on the flanks.

    All in all, it was the first time the Blue and Gold had finished in the finals since 2009, and there looks to finally be some stability around the club off the field, which should allow the players to focus on football and perhaps take the next step in the future.

    Mitchell Moses Parramatta Eels NRL Rugby League 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    Coach Rating 9/10 (Brad Arthur) – For me, Brad Arthur was the Coach of the Year in 2017, fractionally ahead of Paul Green and Craig Bellamy.

    Arthur has always been a highly respected coach during his few seasons at the Eels, but it was important to get that monkey off the back and make it into the finals. I thought he did an outstanding job last season, keeping the players focussed amid all the chaos and distractions the club found itself in off the field.

    This year, I thought he got the best out of his team that, whilst a strong roster, didn’t contain a heap of superstars. It’s clear he is a very popular coach with the players as The Eels were always competitive and their body language was very demonstrative in games.

    Best Win – Round 21 – Parramatta Eels 28 Brisbane Broncos 14 @ ANZ Stadium – I thought this game was the Eels’ best performance of the season, as it came at a crucial time in the season against a Premiership contender.

    Also, the fact they were 12-0 down, inside 10 minutes against a side with a strong defensive resolve, showed the quality of this victory. This was one of the games of the season in terms of the speed of the game, and the Eels went toe to toe with a contender and ended up finishing all over the top of them.

    Worst Loss – Round 10 – Sydney Roosters 48 Parramatta Eels 10 @ Allianz Stadium – This was the only game I could find all year where the Eels were not competitive.

    Whilst there was no shame in going down to the Roosters, I thought this was probably the only game this year in which the Eels did not compete in the collisions or defend their line with pride. The Roosters ran in a number of long range tries and had a field day out wide, as the normally stout Eels defence was ripped to shreds.

    Best Player – Semi Radradra – The flying Fijian winger is the best winger in the game, when on song, and he was back to his damaging best in 2017. It’s going to be a big loss for the Eels next season as, not only have they lost a try scoring machine, but Radradra’s barnstorming runs were responsible for getting the Eels on the front foot early in their sets, and was a weapon at both ends of the field.

    Semi Radradra Parramatta Eels NRL Rugby League 2017

    (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    Most Disappointing Player – Josh Hoffman – I gave thought to Tim Mannah given he looks punch drunk as a footballer, but Mannah is honest and is a heart and soul type player.

    Overall I have to say Josh Hoffman was the most disappointing player given he only managed 13 games and averaged under 90 running metres per game. With Radradra leaving he really needs to step up next season.

    2018 Prospects – On the positive side, Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses will have a full pre-season together to fully work on that combination which looked very promising in the back end of the season.

    However, they do have a few ageing players like Jennings, Mannah and Scott in the twilight of their careers, so I’m not convinced this side will necessarily get better in 2017. They will also need to try and plug the significant hole left by Semi Radradra. Could go either way, but if I were to stick my neck out I would say they could well go backwards given the high bar they set this year.

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