June 15, 2024

In 2023, the Eels were the NRL’s greatest mystery as they defeated Penrith twice in the premiership before becoming just the second team in the last ten years to finish outside the top eight.

NRL news 2024: Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur's mindset shift after  missing finals

Despite the 2023 tragedy, Parramatta signed just two marginal first graders, Kelma Tuilagi (Sea Eagles) and Morgan Harper (Sea Eagles), demonstrating that they clearly have the personnel to make the playoffs.

However, in what may turn out to be a make-or-break season for coach Brad Arthur and several of his big players, they must put it all together more regularly.

The Eels’ go-forward, which has been a highlight of their performances in previous years, was sadly absent last season; the only players to have successful campaigns in the engine room were new boy J’maine Hopgood and veteran Reagan Campbell-Gillard.

The youngster Wiremu Greig could add additional firepower up front, but Junior Paulo, who is enormous, is the player the Eels truly need to replicate his best play.

The large player with deft hands has the ability to win games, but his numbers in 2023 were significantly lower in both running and post-contact meters. Hopefully, with a strong off-season under his belt, he will start the game well and assist the Eels in regaining their competitive edge.

THE NO. 9 DILEMMA: After bustling Reed Mahoney left for the Bulldogs last season, Hooker became an issue for the Eels.

Instead, the Eels took a chance on Josh Hodgson, a 33-year-old fresh off a knee reconstruction, who struggled and finally retired from the game due to injury.

This summer, they chose not to enter the market for a top class No. 9, and it appears that Brendan Hands and Joey Lussick are sharing the position.

They are both fair players, but can they play the crucial dummy-half position for the Eels reach the finals?

We’ll find out in time.

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