Grothe spurt: How the Eel clawed his way

Twelve months ago he was languishing in the NSW Cup and wondering if he would ever play first grade again – now he’s preparing to play in an NRL grand final.<br><br>Parramatta winger Eric Grothe has enjoyed a remarkable career U-turn this season, the 29-year-old hauling himself off the canvas to play a starring role in the Eels’ late-season surge into the premiership decider.<br><br>And according to the giant speedster, he has coach Daniel Anderson to thank.<br><br>“It’s amazing what happens when someone believes in you,” he told NRL.com ahead of Sunday’s face-off with Melbourne.<br><br>“It probably came down to a few things. I applied myself a little bit more at training – the head down, bum up sort of thing.<br><br>“When ‘Ando’ came to the club he gave me first crack at the wing spot so I thought if he had that belief in me I should repay him, prove him right. <br><br>“I felt obliged and I wanted to for myself as well. <br><br>“It’s one of those things you take for granted but you don’t realise what you’ve got until you don’t have it.&nbsp; I realised that last year and I know where I’d rather be, definitely.<br><br>“I’m pretty thankful for all of that.<br><br>“I guess the ones close to you care about you and want to see you go well.”<br><br>Grothe said the ease with which Anderson, who was a member of Brian Smith’s coaching staff at the Eels before heading off to the Warriors in 2001, had slotted back into the club after eight years away was a key factor in the club’s sudden resurgence.<br><br>“It feels like he has always been a part of Parramatta,” Grothe said. “He fitted back in nicely.<br>&nbsp;<br>“He knew a lot of the old faces and because he felt so comfortable here it didn’t take long for everyone to gel. <br><br>“He’s a great coach, very strategic. He gets intense sometimes but he’ll take the piss out of himself a few minutes later.<br><br>“It’s a good mix he’s got there, I think he has nailed it.”<br><br>Certainly Anderson has solved the puzzle on Parramatta’s right side. A defensive problem area last season, Grothe was dumped from the Eels squad by former coach Michael Hagan after a disastrous game against Brisbane midway through 2008 in which the Broncos found repeated success down his wing.<br><br>But, reunited with centre Joel Reddy this season, the pair has proved a devastating combination out wide, scoring 21 tries between them.<br><br>“I’m pretty comfortable playing next to Joel these days,” Grothe said. “His nickname is ‘the technician’. He does everything right – and he likes talking about every option too! <br><br>“Sometimes I have to say ‘Joel, just shut up and calm down. It’s alright’. <br><br>“But if I didn’t have that and no-one was talking to me we probably wouldn’t be going as good as we are.”<br><br>Just what the future holds for Grothe beyond 2009 remains undecided. The veteran winger refuted suggestions he was looking to get out of the final year of his contract but admitted his first priority was to look after his future after being given permission by the Eels to shop himself around.<br><br>“At this stage I’m still here next year but the club gave me permission to look around if I could get a three-year deal somewhere for good money – they wouldn’t hold me to anything,” Grothe said. <br>“I’ve got to look after my future. <br><br>“I haven’t had any formal offers or anything from overseas, I’m still waiting to hear about that. <br><br>“I’ve sent a bit of a highlights clip around the world and we’ll see what happens with that. <br><br>“But I’m more than happy to be here next year – it’s not that I don’t want to be here.<br><br>“It’s just to test the waters and see what’s out there. <br><br>“If I get some offers I’ll have a decision to make but in the meantime I’m just enjoying being around the boys.<br><br>“It’s been an amazing season and it’s a long way from where I was last year, that’s for sure.”