The Parramatta Eels are firming as a legitimate smokey for the 2013 Finals series with the impending arrival of superstar Israel Folau. If and when Folau signs, the Eels will become a serious threat in the National Rugby League.
With a new coach at the helm in Ricky Stuart and the appointment of Chief Executive Officer Ken Edwards, the Eels are finally getting their house in order.
Folau’s impending signing gives the Eels an added weapon in an already impressive backline that boasts Jarryd Hayne, Willie Tonga and Chris Sandow. All three men had disapointing 2012 campaign’s through injury and poor form but will be hoping for a change of fortunes heading into the new year.
Coach Stuart will be happy with the depth developing at Parramatta Stadium too with a number of talented rookies hungry for selection.
Cheyse Blair, Ryan Morgan, Jake Mullany and Taniela Lasalo head a long line of youngsters that will push for selection throughout 2013.
Folau wont be the monster he once was immediately. But the fact the Eels have seemingly got their man shows that big things are just around the corner for the once mighty club.
“He is a product of western Sydney and I can’t see a better fit than him joining Parramatta,” Stuart told The Daily Telegraph on Friday.
“Israel is from the west and that’s where he wants to play his rugby league, with his mates. He is very passionate about playing rugby league for Parramatta.
“Parramatta fans have had a couple of dull years so it’s my job to improve every player in the team and, with Israel there, that will help that happen rapidly. Israel wants to be at Parramatta and we want him to be an Eel. That’s the great thing” Stuart said.
“We are doing everything in our power to make him an Eel and everything we have done has been in consultation with the NRL.”
But the real sticking point for Parramatta fans is whether Stuart can get the best out of enigmatic playmaker Chris Sandow. The former Rabbitoh is the key to everything.
Historically, halfbacks have not faired well under Stuart’s guidance. If Sandow can hit the ground running in 2013, much of the pressure on Folau and Hayne will be lifted and free them to play their natural games.
With the Penrith Panthers recruiting impressively for 2013 and a new start for the Wests Tigers, it seems things are looking up for rugby league in Sydney’s west.
Let the good times roll.
Possible 2013 Parramatta Side:
1 Jarryd HAYNE, 2 Ken SIO, 3 Willie TONGA, 4 Israel FOLAU, 5 Jacob LOKO, 6 Luke KELLY, 7 Chris SANDOW, 8 Tim MANNAH, 9 Matt KEATING, 10 Fui Fui MOI MOI, 11 Ben SMITH, Matt RYAN, 13 Reni MAITUA. Bench 14 Darcy LUSSICK, 15 Mitch ALLGOOD, 16 Joseph PAULO, 17 Ben ROBERTS.