Eels' plight daunting: Kearney - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels' plight daunting: Kearney

By David Beniuk 07/07/2011 04:23:14 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney concedes it would be "pretty daunting" if he was to sit down and think about what the Eels actually need to do to make the NRL finals.

Most agree that means winning at least eight of their last nine games, a task that looks like mission impossible when the club's 2011 record of four wins and a draw from 15 starts is considered.

A loss to the Wests Tigers at Parramatta Stadium on Friday night would all but signal the end of any hope of salvaging Kearney's first season at the helm.

"If I looked at it like that, it's a pretty daunting prospect," Kearney told reporters on Thursday.

"From my point of view and the team's point of view we're not focused on what we have to do or what the ladder says.

"All our focus is on is improving what we thought we needed to last week (a 16-12 loss to a depleted Brisbane) and keeping the same commitment and attitude levels."

It will take more, though, for the Eels to make the play-offs.

They now need to better their miracle run of 2009, which included seven wins from their final eight regular season games.

It's a fate fast dawning on Kearney, who replaced the sacked Daniel Anderson at the end of 2010 and inherited a roster he had little to do with putting together.

"I'm very mindful of, I guess, the development of this team," the New Zealand Test mentor said.

"Up until when Jacob (Loko) got injured I had two centres who had 15 games between them.

"I've got a back-rower in Taniela Lasalo and a front-rower in Mitchell Allgood who've basically only played 10 first grade games.

"I think the improvement from certain stages earlier on in the season to where we are now has been a bit of a shining light for us.

"It doesn't comfort in terms of where we sit on the table or some of the results but I'm mindful that it's a big boat that we've got to turn around and it's going to be a fairly long-term process.

"It's not going to be a quick fix."

Kearney might be cut the slack afforded a first-year coach in a rebuilding year this time around, but he will be expected to stamp his mark on the side in 2012 when recruits Chris Sandow, Esi Tonga and Ben Roberts arrive.

He will also hope prop Justin Poore can finally overcome a long-term knee injury and 2009 grand final half Daniel Mortimer - currently playing in the NSW Cup - rediscovers his mojo.

Rival halves Jeff Robson (hamstring) and Benji Marshall (knee) were due to train on Thursday, with final assessments of whether they will play being left until match day.

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