The Newsroom previews each team for the 2015 National Rugby League season. Today, the Parramatta Eels.
The Hayne plane has flown out of Parramatta and now it is time for a new player to step out into the spotlight. How much will Jarryd Hayne’s departure affect the team? Will they be able to turn a negative into a positive?
Last season – 10th
In: Anthony Watmough (Manly Sea Eagles), Beau Champion (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Ben Crooks (Hull FC, English Super League), Richie Fa’aoso (retirement), Shannan McPherson (Salford, English Super League), Cody Nelson and Brad Takairangi (Gold Coast Titans), Reece Robinson (Canberra Raiders), Adam Quinlan (St George Illawarra Dragons), Danny Wicks (unregistered).
Out: Jarryd Hayne (Detroit Lions, NFL), Mitchell Allgood and Ken Sio (Hull KR, English Super League), Evander Cummings (Queensland Cup), Ben Smith (retired), Liam Foran (London Broncos, ESL), Jacob Loko (Canterbury Bulldogs), Brenden Santi (Wests Tigers), Kelepi Tanginoa (North Queensland Cowboys), Willie Tonga (Catalans, ESL), Daniel Harrison (London Broncos, ESL), Fuifui Moimoi (Leigh, UK), Lorenzo Ma’afu (Queensland Cup), Lee Mossop (Wigan Warriors, ESL), Api Pewhairangi (New Zealand Warriors).
Strengths: It is a new look team for the Parramatta Eels this season. Coach Brad Arthur has brought in 10 new faces, including proven match winners Anthony Watmough and Beau Champion. Without the majority of the old players and expectations, Parramatta will be able play with a new sense of freedom.
Weaknesses: The absence of Jarryd Hayne leaves a giant hole in the western Sydney side. The joint Dally M winner has put his former team mates under immense pressure to perform without him.
Key player: This is where the young William Hopoate comes into the equation. The 22-year-old newlywed showed his potential in the 2011 season, when he helped Manly to grand final success while also making his State of Origin debut. He will most likely play fullback this year and will need to fill the boots that Jarryd Hayne left for him.
Coach: Brad Arthur gained plenty of admirers in his first season as head coach. His side only missed out on the finals on point difference while showing their full potential at times. Whether or not he can get the same out of his squad this year remains to be seen.
Prediction: 8th – Chris Matthews-Darby
Top photo from Naparazzi’s Flickr photostream.