Parramatta Eels are a disgraceful shambles

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    Nathan Hindmarsh slotted home a beauty with his final kick for the Parramatta Eels. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Robb Cox)

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    We’re just four rounds into the 2012 NRL premiership, yet already there are numerous rugby league identities feeling the heat. Or in the hot seat. Or under the blowtorch.

    Use whatever overly dramatic analogy you want, but there is no question that some individuals are feeling the pressure.

    And when talking about pressure, all conversations start and finish with Parramatta.

    The Eels are all alone at the bottom of the ladder, having failed to register a win so far this year. Their season went from bad to worse on Friday night when Penrith, a team no one is expecting to win the premiership, gave them an absolute hiding, 39-6. The Panthers actually dropped off in intensity in the last 20 minutes, or the score could have been even more horrific.

    Parramatta has now scored just 38 points at an average of 9.5 points per game, whilst conceding 135 points at 33.8 points per game. Both statistics are the worst in the competition.

    When a club starts the season so poorly, everyone is under the microscope, but none more so than the coach.

    Last week, Parramatta Eels Chairman Roy Spagnolo publicly stated that Stephen Kearney’s job is safe. If I’ve learnt anything in sport, it’s that when a club official publicly backs a coach, the coach is usually sacked within weeks. It’s one of sport’s great little quirks.

    Kearney’s winning percentage is a terrible 21 percent, and he has won just 2 of his last 18 games.

    Considering Daniel Anderson was sacked for a lack of wins, and he won at a 48 percent clip and took the club to a grand final, Kearney must surely be on the thinnest of thin ice.

    It seems the playing group isn’t 100 percent behind Kearney either, particularly some senior players. Shane Shackleton was forced to apologise to Kearney when, after being asked why he wasn’t part of the first grade side, he posted on Facebook: “Kearney is f**cked”.

    Fans are so frustrated with the club that the team was booed off the park on Friday night.

    Whilst you could argue that fans should never boo their own team, one can also understand their disappointment and anger. Parramatta fans are some of the most passionate in the competition, and that emotion works both ways.

    But no level of emotion can excuse the reports that some Parramatta fans threw coins at players. That is disgraceful and totally unacceptable.

    News Limited reported on Sunday that the Eels are looking to tap club legend and captain Nathan Hindmarsh on the shoulder and tell him that his services are not required for next year. Considering all that Hindmarsh has done for the club in a glittering NRL career that has spanned over 300 first grade games, it would be a shocking move to tell the all-time great that he is no longer wanted.

    Whilst there has been talk of Hindmarsh retiring at the end of the year anyway, the decision should be his and his alone. He’s earned that right. For the club to even discuss telling Hindmarsh he’s not wanted is disgraceful.

    Furthermore, considering that the club is under fire from its own fans, dumping the Eels most popular player would not seem the most astute move.

    It’s not like Hindmarsh is deadwood or a liability on the field either. Whilst his career peaked a few years ago, he’s still been one of the Eels best this season. And the news that he called an ‘honesty session’ yesterday with his players highlights his exceptional leadership qualities, something the club desperately needs at present.

    Most importantly, he always gives 100 percent. That’s a lot more than you could say about some of his teammates.

    The club is even under fire from ex-players, with former Parramatta hooker Mark Riddell launching a tirade on Twitter at besieged Eels chairman Roy Spagnolo, saying he should be punted, with Dennis Fitzgerald re-instated.

    To make matters worse for the embattled club, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary branded Parramatta Stadium’s sandy surface “disgraceful”. There is even a suggestion that the injury to the Panthers Nathan Smith was sustained due to the poor quality of the ground.

    Danny Weilder reported on the weekend that there is a division at the club over star Jarryd Hayne. Apparently some players have complained that he appears disinterested, and that he’s exaggerating the extent of his injury.

    To me, that sounds like pure speculation, and reeks of a journalist printing a story/theory that is only newsworthy when a club is struggling. I’m sure not every player at the club gets along with Jarryd Hayne, but you could level the same accusation against the star player at every club.

    However, the simple truth is that if the club was winning, all the negative talk and innuendo would disappear. Yet with the Eels facing the defending premiers Manly this week, a win still seems a long way off.

    Winless in 2012. Last in points scored. Last in points against. A coach with a 21 percent success rate. Fans booing and throwing coins at players. Disgruntled players. Talks of sacking a club legend. Honesty sessions. Officials under attack from ex-players. A sub-standard playing surface. Rumours of a rift concerning the team’s best player.

    Parramatta are currently a disgraceful shambles.

    It’s not hyperbole. It’s not sensationalism. It’s just fact.

    Ryan O
    Ryan O'Connell

    Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.

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    The Crowd Says (72)

    • March 27th 2012 @ 10:14am
      PLANKO said | March 27th 2012 @ 10:14am | ! Report

      Love to see a relegation battle with maybe clubs from the 2nd Teir comps battling it out for promotion. I dont see it happening but there is something about it. If a top 8 keeps game interesting towards the end of the season imagine the bottom 2 getting canned. In EPL some of the most passionate games of the year are the relegation games.

    • March 27th 2012 @ 10:15am
      Bearfax said | March 27th 2012 @ 10:15am | ! Report

      Hey stop unloading on the Eels will you all. Manly has to play them this weekend and they are likely to get sufficiently angry with the criticism to come out at play like world beaters in response. Wait for Manly to get a win, then give them a serve.

      • March 27th 2012 @ 12:18pm
        eagleJack said | March 27th 2012 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

        I agree Bearfax! A danger game for Manly for sure. When your backs are to the wall professional athletes like nothing more than to come out and prove their doubters wrong. But Parra will have to improve out of sight. Whilst Manly haven’t been great, Parra have been woeful. Round 1 against Brisbane was embarrassing and it has gone downhill from there.

        On a side are people serious about a relegation? Safe to say it will NEVER happen. So Wentworthville gets promoted to the NRL at the expense of the Eels. Wouldn’t they then grab the contracted Eels players to play for Wenty seeing as they are effectively the same club? Comparing it to English football is laughable.

    • Columnist

      March 27th 2012 @ 10:25am
      Brett McKay said | March 27th 2012 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      Dany Weidler?? Pure speculation?!? Well, I never…

      • Columnist

        March 27th 2012 @ 11:00am
        Ryan O'Connell said | March 27th 2012 @ 11:00am | ! Report

        Yes, well. . .

      • March 27th 2012 @ 11:35am
        baller said | March 27th 2012 @ 11:35am | ! Report


      • March 27th 2012 @ 11:44am
        Renegade said | March 27th 2012 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        LOL he is a deadset tool….and for some reason channel 9 go to him as if he provides outstanding journalism – give me his job and i could make up a whole bunch of BS that would raise eyebrows as well.

        • Roar Guru

          March 27th 2012 @ 1:06pm
          peeeko said | March 27th 2012 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

          100% agree renegade

        • March 27th 2012 @ 4:23pm
          dc said | March 27th 2012 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

          danny weasel wiedler, all those half stories and innuendo, and its my understanding, and the mail that i’ve got is….

          what a tool./

    • March 27th 2012 @ 10:45am
      Lowdown said | March 27th 2012 @ 10:45am | ! Report

      0 and 4 start and the knives are out. Yep, welcome to the NRL season.

      Stephen Kearney is re-building the Eels. He is following a five year business model which the board endorsed. He predicted the Eels may struggle in the first few seasons. God knows the cattle he’s had to put up are far from elite rosters of his peers. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the Eels roster is clearly the worst in the NRL and has been for a couple of years now.

      Aside from Hayne there is no genuine superstar and his form since 2009 has been well down and well documented.

      The Eels playing group appear precious and isolalating. Rather than coming together they appear to be drfiting apart. The senior players need to take responsibility for this and perhaps Hindmarsh is part of the problem. How else do you explain a group of guys commmitted to playing out of their skins for the previous leader, but performing so atrociously for Hindmarsh.

      Sacking Kearney will do nothing to solve the plight of the Eels. The only thing the Eels need to do is get a win. It’s like Panadol for a headache – its just what the doctor is prescribing.

      • Columnist

        March 27th 2012 @ 11:00am
        Ryan O'Connell said | March 27th 2012 @ 11:00am | ! Report

        Lowdown, I appreciate that he’s working to a five year plan, and that some early struggles were anticipated. I think the issue has been the lack of effort and the fact they look disorganised in attack and defense – that’s the coaches domain. Whilst they certainly don’t have the talent of other teams, there is no excuse not to be motivated and organised.

      • March 27th 2012 @ 11:09am
        Bearfax said | March 27th 2012 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        The original Star Trek series stated at the beginning of the show ‘Space. The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the star ship Enterprise. Its FIVE YEAR mission….’. Star Trek lasted only 3 years because of diminishing quality. Seems Kearney has also aspired for the same grandiose 5 year plan as Capt Kirk. Maybe he’s also getting lost in the final frontier.

        • March 27th 2012 @ 1:44pm
          Chris said | March 27th 2012 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

          Kearney hasn’t even got out of Earth’s orbit yet!

      • March 28th 2012 @ 10:04am
        Chop said | March 28th 2012 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        Part of the roster problems are his own making Lowdown. Sacking Mortimer and Mitchell last year was ridiculous, yet SK kept playing Robson and Matt Keating (in my opinion and as a Parra supporter, the worst dummy half in the NRL).

        SK isn’t rebuilding the Eels by wanting to get rid of players like Hindmarsh, Horo, Shakelton and Burt. It’s obviously causing issues within the club that specifically relate to the senior players not being happy about being dropped.

    • March 27th 2012 @ 10:54am
      steve b said | March 27th 2012 @ 10:54am | ! Report

      get the right players on the paddock , instead of playing with Wenty or sitting on the sidelines, as for hindmarsh they wouldnt dare dump him their would be a riot . Bring on Kenny he is passionate parra man and thats exactly what they need a bit of fire up their arse Kearney is not the man to get the eels firing autumn is nice in N.Z..

    • March 27th 2012 @ 10:59am
      sledgeross said | March 27th 2012 @ 10:59am | ! Report

      Good call Brettles! Weidler is nothing more than a gossip columnist when it comes to actual rugby league stories. Hes no journalist, especially when he also doubles as Team Mundines marketing and promotions manager.

      Promotion/relegation? Are you blokes smoking the devils lettuce? Who would step into the breach?

      • March 27th 2012 @ 1:50pm
        PLANKO said | March 27th 2012 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

        Agreed in regards to relegation/promotion would be difficult but some cracking games would get played at the end of the season. I think you would be surprised. Sharks are fielding a side on shoe string budget. I think you would get a lot of good second tier players that would play for buggar all just to get a start with a newly promoted team. Imagine if all of a sudden you tapped wentworthville or Ispwich and gave them their NRL grant they would put a side on the park. No sure if it would work but I would love to see them try it

        • March 28th 2012 @ 1:30am
          Pete75 said | March 28th 2012 @ 1:30am | ! Report



          What you want us to believe is that a bunch of second string nobodies will succeed where professionals can’t.

          Sounds plausible. I can just see the fans pouring through the gates at Wentworthville oval top ee them take on the Rabbitohs. All ten of them packing out a ground that holds 3000. I’m sure it would be a ratings hit too.

          There is no promotion and relegation because it’s a flat out stupid idea that won’t work. Those seriously advocating it don’t have their brains in gear.

          Lets move on.

          • March 28th 2012 @ 2:19pm
            PLANKO said | March 28th 2012 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

            Second string nobodies would beat a few clubs walking around at the moment. If a club got promoted they would get more than 10 people to the game and unlike alot of the current clubs these grounds are owned by there club. These teams make more money from gate takings than the roosters do right now. Some clubs running around at the moment getting reasonable crowd actually loose money on game day due to rent and fees charged for them to stage a game.

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