Dyldam Parramatta Eels second row David Gower knows that 2015 is a big year for the Blue and Gold and that missing out on the 2014 Finals is spurring on the squad during the preseason.
“We were pretty disappointed with how we finished and we were pretty keen to get back and start improving right away,” Gower said.
“The break was great while we had it. A few boys got away, a few holidays, a bit of relaxing but now that we are back here we are all ripping in and improving.”
The players have not shied away from the criticism, and as a playing group, they have taken responsibility of how they finished the season and know that 2014 was a lost opportunity.
“We had everything to play for in the last two rounds and we didn’t step up. We didn’t play to our potential.” Gower said.
“That was the most disappointing part that we had everything to play for and the two sides didn’t really have anything to play for and they beat us comfortably.”
However, despite the disappointment, Gower knows that the experience gained by the young Blue and Gold squad is a positive one.
“Last year we were a young, inexperienced side and we don’t want to use that as an excuse and it wasn’t an excuse for us last year but moving forward, but all those young fellas have now had a year of NRL” Gower said.
“We will only worry about us. We now have great depth, we have brought in some experienced guys to add to our squad. Injuries obviously play a part in every team’s season but we are confident that if we do get a few injuries we have the depth to cover it.”
As a team, Gower and the Eels have moved on past the loss of Jarryd Hayne and they team is ready to step up to fill the void to push for finals contention in 2015.
“We don’t really want to get stuck talking about Jarryd now and about last year. We are pretty keen on looking forward and improving as a club and a unit and having our best season yet next year.” Gower said.
“He is a class player and we are going to miss him but in saying that it has given a couple of guys the opportunity to step up and make the fullback spot their own.”
“We have Will Hopoate and Reece Robinson training at fullback and they are doing a good job in that position. Everyone in the team has to raise their game and it could be a good thing that could make everyone have a bit more ownership of their own performances and the team’s performances without having to rely on one player.”
Along with the new signings of Reece Robinson, Beau Champion and Richard Fa’aoso, Gower was excited about being able to join his former Manly teammate Anthony Watmough and the qualities that he brings to a side.
“Someone like Anthony Watmough has played almost 300 hundred games, won premierships played at the peak of the game is going to bring that mental toughness and hard edge that we probably did need.” Gower said.
“He is leading in training at the moment, he’s training well and he is bringing all the boys along with him. We are improving and we have to improve to be better and we are striving to do that everyday at training.”
“He lifts everybody around him, just the class that he brings and the competitiveness he has” Gower added.
Despite the positive feeling around the camp, Gower knows that the talk will only go so far and that the 2015 season is just around the corner. The Eels are ripping into training and are looking forward to the start of the season.
“It’s December already so time does start flying, especially when you start training. It’s flat chat and once January rolls around we have the 9s, trials and as soon as the season kicks off its December before you know it!” Gower said.
“We are just trying to improve every day at training and that’s our mentality.”