‘I use it as motivation’: The stats no Eels fans want to see

The rugby league is littered with hoodoos and omens and even bad luck.

But when it comes to seeing the Eels during the second week of the Finals, some of their fans think they’re just doomed.

Everyone knows about the Premiership drought dating back to 1986 or the fact that they haven’t reached a grand finale since they were beaten by the Storm in 2009.

What’s frustrating for the blue and gold army is that the team has been in contention for some time, but has fallen on the same hurdle in four of the previous five seasons.

That’s why there is so much anticipation ahead of Friday’s semi-final against the Raiders, as they were drawn in two sets in 2017 and 2020 and eliminated in week two in 2019 and 2021 after impressive victories. to start the post-season. .

“I’m using it as a motivation,” said skipper Clint Gutherson, confident that this team has what it takes to correct the mistakes of previous campaigns.

“You know where you’ve been and you know what you have to do to try to get out of it.

“We’ve been here before and a lot of players have gone further, but you have to go and go one week at a time.

“Do or die now. We just have to go out there and make sure we play the style of football we want to play.

His teammate Ryan Matterson knows what it takes to go all the way after winning premier success with the Roosters in 2018.

He says the rise of guys like Will Penisini and Isaiah Papali’i, along with Dylan Brown’s incredible form, kept the Eels on the move through week three.

“We’ve matured as a team, but we’ve also had some additions,” he said.

“There are key players who are probably in better shape than in previous seasons, which helps.

“I’ve played a lot of semi-finals and it always depends on who shows up that day. What you have done in the past means absolutely nothing.

“You saw it in the Roosters-Souths match over the weekend. Nothing made sense in this match, but it was just a question of which team was ready to roll up their sleeves for the 80 minutes.

Halfback Mitch Moses was in doubt about Friday’s showdown but was cleared to take his place after recovering from last week’s tackle gone awry over Viliame Kikau.

He has been one of Parramatta’s best this season with a record of 26 assists, but he wants that to count now with everything at stake.

“We’ve been here several times, but I don’t think there are (persistent demons),” Moses said.

“If you look at it like that. so it might affect your game.

“We have a new squad and there are new players, including those who didn’t play in the second week of the final. They will be inflated and ready to go.

“I think you just have to get on with these things. If you think about it too much, it can damage your foot. We have to go through the second week of the final and the guys are pretty excited.

While the not-so-old story suggests the Eels are doomed, modern numbers tell a very different story that should give their fans the confidence to take their team to the preliminary final.

Brad Arthur’s team didn’t lose consecutive games in 2022 and actually produced some of their best moments in the week following a loss.

Both wins against Penrith this season came the week after a defeat, while they also beat Storm earlier in the year after a narrow defeat to the Sharks.

The Eels also recorded big wins against the Knights and Bulldogs and bounced back from a big defeat to Canterbury by beating the Roosters with a team’s best 40 minutes played this season.

That’s why big man Junior Paulo doesn’t bother talking about a curse or potential voodoo dolls hanging around Canberra.

“We better find him quickly before Friday,” he joked.

“You have to be able to dump it (leaks) as quickly as possible. Good teams do not lose consecutive games and it is a motto with which we try to operate.

“The faster we can recover, the better we get back to the rhythm of things.”

Eels could have made life easier if they beat Penrith last Friday to earn a week’s goodbye.

They were ahead in the last half hour before Nathan Cleary’s brilliance and some unusual mistakes ruined their evening.

They now have another chance for the second week of the Finals just 12 months after the end of their 2021 campaign at the hands of the Panthers, when many people thought they were the best team.

That contrast led to the decisive penalty in last year's series finale.  Photo of NRL
Camera iconThat contrast led to the decisive penalty in last year’s series finale. Photo of NRL Credit: The Daily Telegraph

“It’s not the best when you lose, but you need to be able to bounce back quickly,” Gutherson said.

“We have been good enough to bounce back from poor performances against big teams. We would like to take this into account this week.

“We need to be able to transform this possibility in our own way. It’s about us and it’s about playing our game and our style.

“We are convinced that if we play the football we want, we can beat anyone.”

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