Eels coach concerned for rep stars - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels coach concerned for rep stars

By Todd Balym 30/04/2008 07:16:48 PM Comments (0)

Given Parramatta's disastrous start to 2008 it's only natural that coach Michael Hagan is preparing for none of his five City-Country representatives to play this Saturday.

The Eels' quest to put their NRL season back on track was set back this week as five players - Brett Finch, Nathan Hindmarsh, Jarryd Hayne, Feleti Mateo and Chad Robinson - were selected for the representative clash on Friday in Wollongong.

After a poor 2-4 start to the season, injuries to key players and halfback Tim Smith's release last week mean Hagan needs all hands on deck to prepare for Saturday's clash with Penrith.

But his halfback, five-eighth, strike centre and two backrowers will miss the entire week of training - his halves even separated for their rep teams.

Hagan said he will prepare for the worst case scenario that none of his stars will back up from the Origin trial and simply hope for the best.

"Assuming the worst happens and we have to go without, we need to have a team in place for that and we've worked pretty hard on that this week with that in mind," said Hagan.

"We have had a pretty good week given the obvious disruption of City-Country and we've got some good young players who will get the benefit of training this week and if they have to come in and play on Saturday, we're confident they can get the job done for us.

"We have probably five or six players who train all week with us expecting to play if that was to happen.

"If the best scenario is that they are all okay then we are no worse off."

This weekend is crucial to the Eels' season as another loss would be their fourth in a row and put them two wins off the top eight.

But Hagan is more interested in the style of play than the result from his inconsistent side this year.

"Winning is certainly part of that but playing with confidence and playing well is something we need to sort out," he said.

"That is something I would like to see happen more than anything else on Saturday.

"We've put that (Manly loss) to sleep fairly early ... I'm sure the players are looking to get their season started and that's the situation we're in at the moment."

Hagan also confirmed the club had held "positive" talks about retaining halfback Finch beyond this season and he was "reasonably confident" he would remain an Eel.

"He is keen to continue his career in the NRL which is the first part and more than happy to stay at Parra if we can come up with the right deal," he said.

Finch's situation will be helped even further with hooker Mark Riddell on the verge of signing a three-year multi-million dollar deal to join Wigan next season.

"I see the UK as a great opportunity to get over there and play some good footy," Riddell told the Seven Network.

"I have played eight years in the NRL and it would be awesome to test myself in the other premier competition and that is the Super League."

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