The Parramatta Eels Harold Matthews side had a successful 2017 campaign, however fell just one game short of the Grand Final.

Speaking at the Parramatta Eels District Representative Presentation Night held at Wentworthville Leagues Club last month, Eels Harold Matthews Head Coach Craig Brennan was proud of his young side’s efforts.

“We had a really good season, I am thrilled to be the coach and I am really excited watching the boys from where we were in Week One all the way through to the last week of our competition, just the improvements they made individually and as a team.” Brennan said.

“It was disappointing falling one game short. We set ourselves some team goals and we came up one week short.” He added.

“As a team and as coaching staff, we are disappointed, we didn’t achieve what we wanted to achieve but having said that, we are pretty excited with what we were able to achieve with these boys.”

A teacher off the field, Brennan said that the challenge was not coaching his young players football skills, but rather life and off-field skills.

“I think that is the biggest challenge as a coach these days. You have to manage egos every week, the kids may have had a bad day at school, dramas with girlfriends, problems at home with mum or dad etc.”

“They are normal kids so for me that’s the really hard thing, managing where the kids are on a day to day basis.”

“But I was with them for so long, over a six month period, I got to know them really well and managed to work out really quickly when the boys were a bit down and going really well.”

Presenting awards during the night, the Head Coach had special praise for a few particular players.

“There are a few boys I would like to make mention of. David Hollis, our big front rower had a big season for us, Albert Etuai Favaae was outstanding and a well deserved Best & Fairest Award winner and Bailey Biondi-Odo came down from North Queensland and was outstanding.” Brennan said.

“People like Tyler Field and Jed Edwards just led the way and a couple of my younger boys, Caleb Tohi and Trey Mooney, both 14 years of age playing in the middle of the field and physically matching it with the best.” He added

“So there were some real good stand outs and some outstanding players there.”

“The four boys that made the NSW U16s, I am so excited for them and it’s a reward for them and their hard work throughout the year,” Brennan said of his players selected in the upcoming Under 16 State of Origin clash.

“To Jed Edwards, Sam Hughes, David Hollis and Tyler Field, I hope the really play well and I know they will. I am excited to watch them win the State of Origin when it comes around, in Game three.”

As the Head Coach, Brennan had hopes to continue to see his players succeed and progress through the ranks towards hopefully a NRL career.

“Of course you would love to see them all play NRL over the next 5-10 years, but

just hope the boys are able to work towards their own dreams,” Brennan said.

“If it means playing SG Ball and they achieve that, it would be outstanding. If they can play in the Under 19s in the new competition next year, can progress into Reserve Grade into First Grade, that is why we are here.”

“We are here to make future First Graders and I think if I can get one first grader I will be jumping out of my skin, but in the end, it’s about the boys playing some really good football and I wish them all the best in their future.”

Brennan worked closely with the successful Eels SG Ball Head Coach Scott Jones, learning from the fellow Blue & Gold coach.

“I worked for Scott Jones two years ago in the Harold Matthews as an Assistant Coach, and he is a great football coach,” Brennan said.

“He has a real good brain on the game, understands it and has a fantastic rappore with his players. That is something I was able to learn from Scott, being a school teacher like myself, the way he deals with players, personalities, and being able to educate the boys about rugby league.”

“I absolutely feel privileged to be in this position I am in. I love coaching, I love working with young kids and improving to make them better, so it is a position I am so excited for and can’t wait,” Brennan added when speaking of re-signing to be the Eels 2018 Harold Matthews Head Coach.

“I have already started planning for next year, working on my coaching staff to have them back next year and I cant wait.”