Eels look ahead to brighter days - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels look ahead to brighter days

By Steve Jancetic 05/10/2009 07:43:43 PM Comments (0)

"If I could play another grand final tomorrow I would - I'm that hungry now."

With those words Parramatta frontrower Tim Mannah summed up the sentiment at the Eels' fan day on Monday, the players vowing to come back bigger and better from the disappointment of Sunday's NRL grand final loss to Melbourne.

Unfortunately for Mannah and the Eels, grand finals don't come around every day - he needs only to look to veteran teammate Nathan Hindmarsh for proof of that.

Hindmarsh, skipper Nathan Cayless and winger Luke Burt all went into Sunday's decider looking to atone for their 2001 defeat by Newcastle - Mannah left hoping he doesn't have to wait quite as long.

"In 2001, you saw what they went through and you probably thought they were carrying on a bit, but now that you've experienced it, it's absolutely heartbreaking," Mannah said.

"Hopefully I don't have to wait eight years - it's taken that long for them.

"Now that we've lost one, you know how hard it is to get there and how much it means to us, we'll be hungry for it next season."

Add to that hunger and experience the recruitment of dual international Timana Tahu, NSW Origin prop Justin Poore and City Origin backrower Shane Shackleton in 2010, and it would be fair to say the Eels will be better placed to make a run at the title.

It doesn't always work that way however, with Hindmarsh recalling Parramatta's less than spectacular 2002 campaign when they were bundled out in the first week of the finals 12 months after reaching the grand final.

"You'd like to say yes (you would be better) but you just don't know," Hindmarsh said.

"We've been in this position before and been absolute flops the next year.

"It's very hard to say we're going to be as good next year - I'd like to think we could be."

Much of the Eels optimism stemmed from the belief that the squad would benefit from having a grand final under their belts.

The blue and golds were noticeably tentative during the opening 40 minutes against the Storm, the flamboyant attacking game that had propelled them to ten wins from their previous 11 games taking a back seat to a series of timid last-play options.

"I've played in millions of grand finals since I was a junior but an NRL (grand final) is way different," centre Krisnan Inu said.

"It's just one of those things, you've got to learn it for yourself - it was heartbreaking - not only for the boys but to see Cayless, Burty and Hindy go through it again, it broke everyone's hearts.

"I reckon we'll be a better, stronger team."

Whether the experience of one grand final is enough remains to be seen however, with even Hindmarsh - a veteran of 260 NRL matches - admitting to being overcome by the occasion.

"Even I changed my role from what I had been doing the past couple of weeks, I just went back to tackling and not doing anything else," he said.

"I suppose it's a lesson learnt there again.

"You just do what you know you can do and just do it as much as you can.

"The last 20 minutes of the second half, we would have liked to have played that way the whole game but it doesn't happen that way."

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