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Anderson admires Knights' example

By Ian McCullough 06/06/2009 12:32:08 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta's coach Daniel Anderson says Newcastle's progress in the NRL this season has given him confidence that his long-term vision for the Eels is the right one.

Parramatta, who sit third-last, travel to EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday to take on an in-form Knights team that have won their last nine home games, and Anderson said there are similarities between his side and the Newcastle one of two years ago when Brian Smith took over as coach.

Smith, who left the Eels to take over at Newcastle in 2007, upset players and fans alike when he released a number of big names including Clint Newton, Josh Perry and Kirk Reynoldson.

These moves forced Smith to bring in youngsters like Jarrod Mullen, Scott Dureau and James McManus leading to a difficult season for the Knights who finished second-last, just in front of Penrith.

However, Anderson, who like Smith was widely criticised for his decision to allow Brett Finch to leave earlier this season, said Smith's tough decisions have now been vindicated.

"Brian had to make some tough calls and the club are reaping the rewards from what they did a couple of years ago, as are Penrith who were in a similar situation," Anderson said.

Mullen and McManus have both gone on to play State of Origin since being thrown in at the deep end that season, and Anderson said he is hopeful that Eels rookies such as Kris and Matt Keating, Daniel Mortimer and prop Tim Mannah can learn some similar lessons after tough debut seasons in first grade.

"I think it is fair to say there are some similarities between us and Newcastle and I hope we can develop players as good as Jarrod Mullen, he is an outstanding player," he said.

"Obviously I would like us to win games now, although I am looking a little bit towards next season and the future of Parramatta."

Although the Eels under Anderson are very much a work in progress, the coach insists he is not throwing in the towel for this season.

"The Parramatta fans are very educated and they know this is a tough period for us and they can see our effort levels are good, our preparation is good, we are just not winning games," he said.

"I am definitely learning about the character of the squad now ... and that ability to stand pressure and scrutiny but our training sessions are good and the demeanour of the players is very positive."

Anderson also admitted to being surprised at just how good a player Jarryd Hayne is, after getting the chance to work with the NSW star first-hand.

"I hadn't seen him extensively in the last couple of years but I have to admit I am very impressed with what he is doing, his attitude, his athleticism, his talent ... he has been everything that I hoped for," he said.

"His form over the last month has been breathtaking ... he has been doing things in games over the last month that have been world class.

"He is the form player of our club and he is going to get attention from other teams but we are going to give him the ball because that is what he likes."

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