Eels can go all the way: Mateo - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels can go all the way: Mateo

By Steve Jancetic 20/08/2008 06:34:52 AM Comments (0)

They're the biggest underachievers of the season and still mired in 12th spot on the NRL ladder, but lock Feleti Mateo is adamant the Eels can still challenge the likes of Melbourne and Manly for the premiership title.

Only problem is they have to get to the finals first, the Eels needing to win at least two and possibly all three of their remaining regular season matches just to secure a slice of September action.

The chances of that happening looked remote just a fortnight ago, but wins over fourth-placed Sydney Roosters and fellow top eight challengers Wests Tigers have kept the playoff flame flickering.

And the confidence is obviously growing, with Mateo talking up his side's chances of doing some damage in the finals.

"We haven't changed too much from last year, we lost a couple of big players in Timana (Tahu) and Timmy Smith, but we've still got the core of the team there," Mateo said.

"We were one step away from the grand final last year and I still believe we can go all the way.

"A lot of people are writing us off now and everyone thinks the season's been a big disappointment, but if we get there we're a big chance, we might scare a few teams."

While some of the sides near the pointy end of the ladder may be taking a cursory look back at the Eels, they hardly appear to be shaking in their boots at the prospect of the blue and gold giant finally awakening.

Tigers coach Tim Sheens did his best to downplay the significance of Monday night's display when he said "I wouldn't be jumping out of our skin if I was them thinking that they're back."

He found an ally in Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart, who joined the chorus of Eels doubters when he suggested the pre-season fancies had not yet turned the corner.

"No, not at all. You can't just come out and play like that one week and go back into your shell," Stuart told radio station 2KY.

"He (coach Michael Hagan) has got one of the best rosters in the competition there in Parramatta and they're underachieving.

"You'd have to ask yourself how come they don't perform like that three times out of four games, or four out of four games, to be quite honest."

Fears Mateo had suffered more damage to the medial ligament in his knee were allayed with club officials giving him the all clear, the ball-playing lock named to play against the Bulldogs on Saturday night.

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