Another fortnight, and unfortunately, negativity continues to surround the embattled Parramatta Eels. If it’s not the board having issues, or Corey Norman being stood down, it’s the Eels losing streak continuing. There’s no easy way to put it, 2016 has been the toughest year on any club in recent history, but there is a silver lining at the end of this tumultuous storm.
As of last week, the Eels board, accused of wounding the club in so many ways, was sacked in favour of an independent administrator. Max Donnelly, the administrator appointed to the club, has a goal of having a new board in place before the 2017 NRL season. With this news comes the exciting rumours surrounding Jarryd Hayne’s potential return to the blue and gold, and rumours that Corey Norman is set to ink a new long term deal with the club. All in all, 2017 looms as a much more productive year for the gritty Eels franchise.
On the field, with recent heartbreaking losses to the Panthers and Titans, the Eels semi final aspirations are officially over. There are two ways to look at this situation. Number one, the team can finally rest mentally, having given so much to the campaign this season, and have fun causing as many headaches as possible for the rest of the teams battling for a top eight spot. Or two, the coaching staff can gamble with positional changes to the line-up in the hope of blooding fresh and exciting talent ahead of the 2017 season.
One such player set to benefit from this possibility during the last six weeks of the competition is Bevan French. The pint-sized flyer is already a household name at Parramatta, having recorded double figures in the try-scoring column in only seven appearances this season. Standing at just over 5” 11’ and weighing just 85 kilograms, he admitted recently that fullback was his favourite position, but one key aspect of his game needs to remain to make that transition permanent.
“I want to get up around the 90’s (kilograms), personally the biggest thing for me is my speed so I want to get to 90, but I don’t want to put it on too quick. When I first moved down (from Tingha) I put it on too quick and sort of lost some speed so I want to put it on slowly.”
French made a name for himself at the Auckland Nines at the start of the year, admitting, “it was a big confidence booster.” He is undoubtedly a future superstar at the Eels, so the question for the club is do they sacrifice departing fullback Michael Gordon, and hand his spot to French for the remainder of 2016? Time will tell.
Whichever path the Eels decide to take for the remainder of the season, full credit must go to the majority of the playing group, the coaching staff, and most importantly the fans, for sticking through what has been a rough time. Hopefully 2017 is more satisfying for you all.