Eels shift focus with NRL finals gone - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels shift focus with NRL finals gone

By Steve Jancetic 29/07/2011 05:47:36 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta have shifted focus now the NRL finals are out of reach, with the Eels determined to play the role of spoiler over the closing rounds of the season.

The Eels finals hopes were dashed by a pair of golden point losses, pride and planning for 2012 their only remaining motivation.

While skipper Nathan Hindmarsh wasn't predicting a radical change in philosophy by the Eels, he said the side could take some joy out of causing a few problems for those sides still in the hunt for the title.

Starting with Monday's clash against Melbourne at Parramatta Stadium, the Eels play top-eight contenders South Sydney and Wests Tigers as well as second placed Manly during their run home.

"If we can ruffle a few feathers here and there, maybe upset a few teams hoping to get into the eight, we'll make it difficult for other teams to do what they want to do," Hindmarsh said.

"Just because our season's pretty much done and dusted, we're not going to go out there and not play rugby league and not play footy and try and win games, you just can't do that.

"We've still got some goals we want to achieve and goals that we need to take into next season as well."

The Eels are set to undergo a transformation ahead of 2012, with a pair of new halves in Chris Sandow and Ben Roberts as well as young Gold Coast centre Esi Tonga arriving to the club.

Another potential recruit is former Test centre Willie Tonga, who was this week given permission by North Queensland to negotiate with other clubs for next season.

With rookie Ryan Morgan out with a hamstring strain, Wests Tigers-bound Joel Reddy nursing a pectoral injury, Chris Walker having been released and Paul Whatuira retiring mid-season, the Eels' centre stocks are decidedly thin.

Coach Stephen Kearney has been forced to name backrowers Ben Smith and Justin Horo in the outside backs for the game against the Storm, but he denies the shortage of options highlights his club's desperation to sign Willie Tonga.

"It would be lovely to have someone of Will's calibre, but that's what we've been presented with at the moment and the guys will do the best they can," Kearney said.

"They (Horo and Smith) do a fairly good job in those positions, obviously it's not their favoured spots, but Justin's probably one of the quicker forwards on the team and you saw Ben chase down Benji (Marshall) so he must be quick.

"That's the circumstance we're in at the moment as a footy club with our personnel - we're not going to complain about who we haven't got or what we haven't got, the guys know their responsibilities and their jobs."

As for whether Tonga was on the club's shopping list, Kearney said:

"My focus is preparing the side for a real tough challenge on Monday night and I'll leave that to our NRL recruitment man."

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