NRL news, as it happens.
Up until this week, I thought Parramatta were unlikely to make the finals this year. The signing of Michael Jennings has changed my opinion.
He becomes the strike weapon in the centres that the Eels were missing.
Will Hopoate didn’t live up to the hype during his time in Sydney’s west, but don’t expect Jennings to fall into a similar lull.
Jenko is at the top of his game, his pace off the mark is electrifying, and he knows his way to the tryline. Jennings plays on the left, which is the same side of the field as both Semi Radradra and Kieran Foran. This combination has the ability to form a lethal left-edge that will become the fear of every right-side defence.
The Eels’ right side isn’t as clear-cut, but one potential combination would be shifting Brad Takairangi to right centre and teaming him up with winger Clint Gutherson. Takairangi is a solid without being spectacular centre, while Gutherson has a lot of potential but has been hampered by injury in his short first-grade career.
The Eels forward pack doesn’t light the world on fire, but they have assembled a good mix of youth and experience.
In terms of their spine, Michael Gordon is probably past his prime, but he brings experience to the fullback position, and is a quality goal kicker. The rest of the spine is made up of players Eels fans can get excited about – Corey Norman, Nathan Peats and Foran have all been recruited to the club in recent years, have youth on their side, and are genuine match-winners.
The Eels’ potential to reach the top eight this year depends on how well their spine gel together, and how much quality ball they can get out to try scorers Jennings and Radradra. I can’t see them threatening for the premiership – they won’t be able to match it with the Broncos, Warriors, Cowboys, Roosters and Manly – but I can see them finishing anywhere between fifth and eighth.
While Jennings isn’t the final piece in the puzzle to get the Eels back to their best, he is a step in the right direction and will be one of the buys of the year.