Eels know they have to weather the Storm - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels know they have to weather the Storm

01/10/2009 01:55:10 PM Comments (0)

Having lived in the shadow of the club's last premiership for more than two decades, Parramatta veteran Nathan Hindmarsh knows nothing but victory will suffice on Sunday evening.

Forget the 10 wins from 11 games - 10 of which were sudden-death - that it took to get the Eels to the NRL grand final, or the fact they have become the first side to come from eighth spot under the eight-team McIntyre finals system to make the decider.

All that matters will mean zilch if they come up short against Melbourne at ANZ Stadium.

"You've got to come first once you make the semis otherwise it doesn't count at all - you may as well have been knocked out before the semis had started," Hindmarsh says.

"Our goal is to win the grand final, and pretty much nothing else is going to do."

Hindmarsh's stance is understandable when you consider he has played his entire career listening to tales of the great Eels sides of the 1980s, the ones featuring the likes of Sterling, Kenny, Grothe, Price and Cronin which won four premierships in six years, the last of them in 1986.

That was a dynasty.

The Storm, Parramatta's opponents on Sunday, are trying to become one.

It's the fourth year in a row that Melbourne have made it to the big one.

For them, attending the grand final breakfast has become the start of their end of season trip.

But for all their dominance in recent years, Melbourne know they need more to show for it.

When Parramatta made four straight grand finals from 1981-84 - the last team to do so before this Storm outfit - they won three premierships.

To date Melbourne have one from three, and if that record extends to one from four, greatness could elude them.

"People determine greatness by premierships," backrower Ryan Hoffman says.

"If you get a couple of premierships in a decade then I suppose you deserve to be ranked as one of the quality teams."

The Eels know their grand final opponents are quality - any side with the likes of Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk possesses plenty of danger.

But the Eels also know there is a burden of expectation on the Storm, one they are hoping to exploit.

"They've got all the pressure on them," said Parramatta fullback and Dally M medalist Jarryd Hayne.

"Four years now and I'm sure they're probably feeling the heat more than we are.

"Every team they've played, they've been outstanding and four years in a row they've been in there and only won it once.

"I'm sure that's what they're thinking about.

"It's so hard just to make one, so being able to make four is a credit to themselves.

"To only come up with one, there might be a bit of pressure on them. I don't know, I haven't been in one before, they've been in four.

"I'm not too sure what they're feeling but obviously they're going to be feeling the pinch a bit more than us."

Pressure is something the Eels know a thing or two about, having played sudden death football for the best part of the last three months.

The only game they have lost in that time was their final round 37-0 capitulation at the hands of minor premiers St George Illawarra.

That was the only game since mid-July that the Eels had played knowing they were assured a finals berth, and it is worth noting that they came out nine days later and beat the same opposition at the same venue 25-12 to begin what has been a remarkable finals campaign.

It's why coach Daniel Anderson doesn't fear his side coming unstuck on the biggest stage.

"We've played our grand final six weeks in a row - now we just have to play a seventh," he said.

But in the 23 years since the Eels' last premiership, the club has been here before.

The year was 2001, Parramatta advancing to the decider after losing just four games all year while producing the most prolific regular season on record by scoring a staggering 839 points.

Then along came Newcastle.

"In 2001 there was probably two guys in particular that played the game of their lives," said Eels skipper Nathan Hindmarsh, one of three survivors from that 30-24 defeat to the Knights along with Hindmarsh and Luke Burt.

"Andrew Johns was outstanding. He carved us up and Ben Kennedy was a man possessed.

"We were all pretty young then and probably didn't handle the occasion as well as we would have liked but you learn from that."

After eight years, Parramatta fans will be hoping the lesson is finally over.

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