After a terrible start to their season, the Parramatta Eels made a decision that it would cease all contract talks with their off contract players until such time as the team turned things around on the field.
The backlash was fairly swift.
The players were not happy at all. They were filthy the decision was made public and let the media know it.
Then the player managers have their say thanks to lazy journalists. They suggested that if the Parramatta Eels didn’t want these players, that is fine. Other clubs would be very quick to sign their players up, as if to suggest the Eels were cutting off their nose to spite their face.
One problem in that theory…..these players are not winning games for the Eels right now!
The Panther Panthers recently boasted that most of their sign were now signed up to long term deal. Players who were only on a one year contract in 2010 managed to secure three year deals with the team after just a couple of games and the coach, well he is on board until 2013.
That is all fantastic, apart from the fact that this is a side who is jumping up and down over a 2 and 2 record that only come about because of two opposition clubs collocating for 40 minutes!
So is the Parramatta Eels are going the other way, how will it really effect them?
Eric Grothe, Krisnan Inu and Feleti Mateo are the three big names off contract at Parramatta.
Grothe in my opinion is more trouble than he’s worth. For every good thing he does, a good run, a great try, he makes 20 mistakes. Dropped balls, being totally out of position in defense, he has the type of mistake in his game that can cost you a contest.
In Krisnan Inu the Eels don’t know what they have. A very handy athlete, there is no doubt about that. He is probably better suited to fullback, however that is Jarryd Haynes position and nothing will change that. He has one decent game every ten weeks, and even then, he doesn’t blow anyone’s mind.
Then we have Feleti Mateo.
Once again, a great athlete, amazing footwork and hey, this is a guy as big as most second rowers who can pass and kick very well. Thats all fantastic, except he rarely does any of these things!
These days he is coming off the bench, a battering ram who throws stupid passes that puts his team under pressure.
Sure he has potential, but like a Danny McGuire or Iestyn Harris before him, there comes a point where you just used to be a good young player and now, at 24 years old, Mateo is the player he is…he won’t magically spring to life all of a sudden!
These are three players on fairly decent money that play in Parramatta’s team every single week, and yet they just do not perform to the level the club needs right now.
So what is the alternative?
Well there has been talk that the Eels approached Jonathan Thruston’s manager. The Eels are struggling at halfback right now and what better way to upgrade then get the worlds best halfback?
Thurston wouldn’t come cheap, and its already known that the Bulldogs and Knights are both after him. His current club, the North Queensland Cowboys are pretty clear that he will either sign for them, or a European Rugby Union team, however if the price is right, I think he would defiantly move to another NRL club, so the Eels have as good as shot as anyone.
They would need to sell the farm to get him, and it might make it hard to retain other players in the future, but I think it might give them the halfback they have needed since, dare I say it, peter Sterling retired.
Another player who is off contract that I think would be a terrific buy for the Eels is Brent Tate.
Tate has a huge influence on any team he plays for, in both attack and defense. The other thing about Tate is, he produces, game in and game out.
The Eels have a great junior base to draw on so they will rarely be short of youngsters they can bring into first grade at a good price and who can maybe fill a few holes in their lineup. With that in mine, I think it is worth the Eels taking an expansive gamble on proven performers in an effort to tip themselves over the edge and win an elusive premiership.
Sign up a few underachievers to long term deals.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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