In this week's column, Mary Kaye write about why she's loving watching the Parramatta Eels on the field in 2014! Remember you can find more of her work on Ladies Who League!
The 2014 season is only in its infancy, but after six rounds, the Parramatta Eels sit fifth on the ladder.
We as fans know the risk of putting too much emphasis on performance too early. September is months away and it's dangerous to become overly confident so early in the season.
I'm not suggesting Parramatta will play finals football (although I hope they do), but we need to recognise the turnaround over the last month. The Eels are a changed team. Defensively we are no longer a team that leaks over 30 points each week. Parramatta are no longer the easy-beats of the competition and Pirtek Stadium has returned to what it should have been all along – our fortress.
Our attack is, once again, exciting. One of my favourite things about the 2009 season was our unpredictability in attack. This is back and we no longer simply look to Jarryd to provide all attacking prowess. Peatsy, Semi and Chrissy all look dangerous close to the line and the team is reaping the rewards.
The performance against the Roosters was great for many reasons, but what pleased me most was that our team showed commitment. I was on the edge of my seat for the last 15 minutes of the game. Despite the Roosters looking dangerous every single time they had an attacking set, we never ever gave up. Jarryd and Tim showed tremendous leadership in their tackle on SBW. How they held up SBW, I'll never know - but it's that sort of desperation which will hold us in good stead in the coming weeks.
Last year, there is no way Parramatta could have held on to win a game like that. We would find ourselves in the lead for most of the game and then find a way to lose (often in shattering circumstances).
There are a series of things which have changed this season.
One of our biggest past issues has been an inconsistent spine. We all know the importance of your numbers 1, 6, 7 and 9 and Parramatta had constant change in those positions. Not anymore. Jarryd is back in form and looks delighted to be playing number 1. Corey Norman has been one of our most consistent performers, classy in attack and executing some sensational plays. It’s been wonderful to see Chrissy back with a big smile on his face and playing exciting football.
Last, but not least, Peatsy has absolutely transformed the Eels this season. He is the best buy of the season for any club. Not only has he been very physical in defence, making tackle after tackle after tackle, but his attacking flair has added so much to the side.
Put this with new fan favourites like Manu, Semi, Pauli and Hoppa and we have ourselves a football team.
We cannot forget our coach. Brad Arthur seems to command the respect of the playing roster and has completely rejuvenated our team. We are finally utilising the talent within our playing ranks.
The NRL has had major problems with crowds this year - so I encourage all of you to get out to ANZ Stadium to cheer our boys home against the Tigers. It should be a sensational afternoon of football and I would love to see a blockbuster crowd!
Remember, this one is #forthefarmers!