‘Had ample opportunities’: Roster overhaul looms if Eels fail again amid ‘tough calls’ on stars

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Mark St John from Fox Sports@markdfstjohn

Paul Kent believes the Eels might need to make some tough calls on their star players if they fail to progress to the grand final after a sustained period of finals near misses.

The Eels have consistently made the finals over Brad Arthur’s tenure, but have until now failed to reach the preliminary finals stage and if they don’t make the big dance or win the title, it may be time to rebuild the roster with players who can get the job done.

James Hooper believes the onus is on the players and not the coach to take the Eels to the promised land and the roster will be under pressure if they don’t.

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“They need to kick on from here,” Hooper said on NRL 360.

“They have put themselves in a good position. They have finished in the top four.

“They need to kick on from making the preliminary final into the grand final and try and smash what is the longest premiership drought in the NRL.

“It is not only on Brad Arthur the coach. It is on this playing group. This particular group, their senior players as their recent finals record highlights, they have had ample opportunities.

“It is not on Brad Arthur at the moment. It is up to the players. They need to deliver.”

Braith Anasta believes the Eels may have to rethink giving their star players like Mitchell Moses big money extensions if they fail to deliver against the Cowboys.

“Everyone is talking about Mitchell Moses and a few other players and other clubs circling,” Anasta said.

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Mitchell Moses needs to deliver on the big stage.Source: Getty Images

“But if you are Parramatta and they lose this game and it is a convincing loss after the last few years, they have got to be questioning if they re-sign these players with the money they are demanding if they are not going to bring them a premiership. They maybe need to look elsewhere.”

Kent agreed this is a huge test for the Eels’ stars and believes the club may need to make some ruthless calls if they fall short yet again.

“I think that is a legitimate concern,” Kent said.

“If they get knocked off this weekend, they have to go away and think.

“I remember when Des Hasler first made the grand final at Canterbury and everyone said, let’s just hold it together and go again.

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“They got there again in 2014 and people at the club said, in hindsight 2012 that is when they needed to start the rebuild.

“They let everyone get a little bit too old and they lost too many good players underneath them and the starting position for the rebuild was too far back.

“Parramatta might have to make some really tough calls and say, this is not the squad that is going to cut it for us.

“It is a bit like when the Roosters had Mitchell Pearce as their halfback and Cooper Cronk became available and they went out and it shocked everybody.

“Mitchell Pearce was a quality halfback, but what did it do? It got them two premierships.

“That is the sort of tough call Parramatta might need to make.

“It is not a knock on the players, but as a group they are not quite getting them there up until now. The next week and a half might change that.”

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Anasta noted the Eels have had no issue in making the finals most years, but their current roster has failed to deliver results when it matters most.

“The Eels have had some disasters over the years,” Anasta said.

“Can they just put this to bed? I know we talk about this a lot but it is what it is.

“2017 they finished fourth and were out in straight sets. 2018 they got the wooden spoon. 2019 they finished fifth and were out in week two. 2020 they finished third and were out in straight sets. 2021 they were sixth and out in week two.

“It has been a bit of disaster. They have got there easily over the years, but just can’t get the job done.”

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However, Kent believes the Eels’ season is on par with expectations heading into the 2022 season and commended Arthur for what he has done with the team to date.

“They have been a perennial top eight side, except for 2018,” Kent said.

“Brad Arthur has done a good job. Very few had Parramatta as a premiership winner.

“I think Parramatta right now are sitting par and if they make the grand final he has done better than what most league fans would have assumed.”

The Daily Telegraph’s Michael Carayannis believes the Eels have already buried some of their finals demons and it could give them the freedom to break off the shackles against the Cowboys.

“I think they have got over that slump,” Carayannis said.

“The slump was getting past week two. They have done that now, so I think we will see them play with a little bit more freedom and a free Parramatta side is a dangerous one.

“Top four was par, so I think they have had a decent year.”