Kearney agrees Eels have had a good year - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kearney agrees Eels have had a good year

By Ben Horne 12/08/2011 07:12:55 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney has backed chief executive Paul Osborne's assertion that overall the Eels have had a positive season, despite being one point off the NRL wooden spoon.

Kearney said that while five wins for the year is far from pleasing, he's been encouraged by the Eels' resolve.

The debut coach described last week's 56-6 thrashing by South Sydney as "out of character" and is instead focusing on the good signs he saw in the months prior.

Parramatta have either beaten, drawn with or lost in agonising circumstances by four points or less to every single team in the top eight. Kearney believes the Eels position on the ladder is an unfair reflection of the effort they've put in.

While Eels fans might not see the possibility of the club's first wooden spoon finish since 1972 as forward progress, Kearney said he's only interested in improved preparation and performance.

"I think for me the growth of the side despite Monday night's game, I think we've come a real long way over the past 10 or 11 weeks," Kearney said.

"You take out Monday night's game ... (and while) I haven't been pleased because we haven't been winning, I've been encouraged by what they've shown and Monday night's performance to me seemed a bit out of character for whatever reason.

"I've been encouraged by the majority of what I've seen this season.

"Sometimes it's a bit like the golden point, sometimes you don't get rewarded for your effort, but that's not a concern for us.

"If we get through to round 26 and we look at our last 15, 16 weeks of footy, apart from the game against South Sydney I think we can say we've taken some positive steps forward as a footy club."

Kearney has plenty of theories as to why the Eels capitulated against Souths after being so competitive in earlier weeks, but Parramatta are determined not to offer excuses ahead of their match against Manly at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday night.

The coach acknowledges the build-up caused by heart-breaking losses to Penrith, Canterbury and Melbourne probably played it's part, but that doesn't change his opinion that the effort against Souths was unacceptable.

Parramatta made another strong signing on Thursday when they confirmed international Willie Tonga will join the club.

Along with Chris Sandow, Ben Roberts and Esi Tonga - the Eels' recruitment drive is already a significant improvement on last summer when most of their signings were over the age of 30 and past their prime.

Kearney is also reluctant to talk up next year's roster, because he believed this year's group of players could have done the job.

"I want the playing group that are here now, I want them to improve that five or seven per cent which will get us those (close) games and not think that Chris or Willie, or Esi or Ben Roberts are going to get us those points next year, because I thought we were in a position where we could have done that ourselves," Kearney said.

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