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Injury crisis hits Parramatta

To an outsider, the Parramatta Eels may seem like a sinking ship.

The Blue and Gold army sure hasn’t had much to cheer about in 2009 as the media have revealed crippling debts and boardroom battles that have seen the end of long-time chief, ‘The Emperor’ Denis Fitzgerald’s reign of power.

Further to this, the Eels are languishing in 13th place on the NRL ladder with just three wins, having scored fewer points than the hapless Cronulla Sharks.

All those things paint a pretty grim picture, but this week the club has been boosted by the re-signings of young prop Tim Mannah and the club’s favourite son, Nathan Hindmarsh.

At 29, Hindmarsh is still the heart and soul of the Parramatta club. He may even have blue and gold blood running through his veins, but in an age when most players chase the big bucks overseas, or wherever they can get them, the burly second rower has stayed loyal to the only club at which he has ever played first grade.

The question is why?

The answer was delivered in the typically no-nonsense manner ‘Hindy’ is synonymous with.

“Mate I didn’t really want to cart my family overseas, I have always wanted to win a Grand Final at Parramatta and I love being here.

“There was an offer from Super League but I always thought I would stay at Parramatta and I came to that decision and I’m happy with it so here I am.”

But is his premiership-winning goal realistic? In all his time at the Eels (since 1998 when he debuted against the Adelaide Rams in Parkes) Hindmarsh has only been to the Grand Final once, which was the club’s 2001 loss to Newcastle .

Still, Hindmarsh hasn’t given up hope just yet.

“I’m not going to say it’s possible this year, but you know how the saying goes, stranger things have happened!  Although I certainly can’t see why it’s not possible next year. Daniel Anderson has some plans in place of how to improve the side but until next year rolls around I don’t know if they’re going to work or not.

“Personally I’d love to win one with Nathan Cayless and Luke Burt.

“We have the nucleus of a good experienced side here now with myself, Cayless and Burty. Then you have Feleti Mateo, Jarryd Hayne, Krisnan Inu and Matt Keating and we’re starting to find some form.

“It’s also good to see we have re-signed Tim Mannah. The big front rower is always keen and he has got a big engine in him too, so he can play some minutes which, is good.”

While at this time of the season - and given the year the Eels have had - Hindmarsh could be forgiven for having other things on his mind, such as his snub from Origin and the drama that went on in the Parramatta boardroom, but the four-time Provan Summons Medallist is all about the Eels’ on-field performance.

Though he does concede the rep footy snub had got to him.

“No it’s not bothering me anymore. It was, but I’ve come to terms with that and life goes on and I’ll just concentrate on playing week-in-week-out.

“As for the club stuff I don’t think you will be seeing changes until next year and to be honest that stuff doesn’t bother me. Our job is to play rugby league and their job is to run the club.”

While one could argue the Eels aren’t playing the best rugby league of late, Hindmarsh has guaranteed they will be fired up for a huge encounter with a South Sydney side who are likely to be buzzing after their final minute win last Sunday.

“I’m looking forward to it. They had a hard fought game last week with the Tigers, so hopefully they bashed the sh*t out of each other. It’s going to be tough this week and I’m predicting another forwards battle especially if it’s wet.

“Roy Asotasi is getting to his best now. He had a slow start to the season but he’s really starting to get into stride and there’s nothing worse than having a 105 kilo bloke running at you with the footwork of a centre.”

Hindmarsh also thinks the makeshift halves combination of Joel Reddy and Jeff Robson could help to produce an upset this Friday night at Homebush and has called for the blue and gold army to be out in force.

“We’ll have to wait until Friday night to see how they go, but Jeff Robson has played halfback before and whilst I don’t know about Rocket at five eighth I think he’ll be talking it up in the sheds. He’s a solid defender and I think that is what he is going to be primarily there for. It might be his permanent position,” Hindmarsh quipped.

“There’s nothing better than seeing bums on seats and plenty of blue and gold. It gives us something to play for and our team loves watching our fans go berserk.”

So if they want to see Hindmarsh enter yet another era of his storied career, they should head out to ANZ Stadium this Friday night.
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