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Former Eels halfback Jason Taylor believes Parramatta must find a way to ease the pressure on struggling youngster Daniel Mortimer or risk finals oblivion after the club lost to the Warriors yesterday – their third consecutive defeat.<br><br>While much of the blame for his side’s attacking woes has been planted firmly on Mortimer’s shoulders, Taylor said it was unfair to expect the 21-year-old alone to spark an attack that has yielded just a single try in each of Parramatta’s past three games.<br><br>Mortimer’s impact has been way down in recent weeks, with opposition attacks targeting him and tiring him out by forcing him to make huge numbers of tackles – 40 against the Broncos last week. <br><br>Instead, Taylor pointed to an Eels outfit lacking energy and the prolific second-phase play that typified their 2009 season as the primary reason for Mortimer’s – and ultimately Parramatta’s –struggles.<br><br>“The big thing about Daniel Mortimer – and also Kris Keating for that matter – is that they’re both really talented attacking players but their strengths at the moment lie in their ability to break the line themselves and support and finish off stuff that’s created for them,” he said after seeing Mortimer ‘hooked’ with 13 minutes remaining against the Warriors.<br><br>“I don’t see either of them as really creative players that are going to create or construct tries. They are more likely to do something themselves or on the back of others around them. <br><br>“Last year the forwards played with a lot of passing and their forwards created things that Daniel could get on the back of. <br><br>“This year they are putting the pressure on him to create the play and it doesn’t surprise me that it’s not working because that’s not his strength at the moment. <br><br>“It’s something that will develop over time but for now he needs more help from his team-mates. <br><br>“I mean, Daniel Mortimer is in his second year of first grade but because he hit the ground running last year, everyone expects the world from him.”<br><br>Taylor said that it was evident the Eels were struggling to match the fast-paced style of game that catapulted them to last year’s grand final, with the likes of Mortimer paying the price.<br><br>“They look to be playing without the energy and support play that they played with last year,” he said. “I think they really miss guys like Kevin Kingston, Joe Galuvao and Todd Lowrie who are lower profile bur very important to the style of footy they were playing last year.<br><br>“They played with a lot of energy and a lot of effort but the hardest thing for them is making it happen again.”<br><br>The Eels now find themselves four points out of the eight and needing to produce a similar finish to last year – when they won seven games in a row to sneak into eighth spot – to ensure another finals finish.<br>But former greats contacted by today said it was still too early to write off the struggling side.<br><br><br>“The fact is that the talent is there,” said Steve Ella, who starred in Parramatta’s four grand final wins in the 1980s. “It’s certainly a talented side and they’ve got a quality coach – so it’s really up to them. <br><br>“The opportunity is still there for them and that’s how they should look at it.<br><br>&nbsp;“I do pay a lot of attention to them and I’ve still got faith in the coach, players and administration.”<br><br>Perhaps surprisingly, the Eels also have a supporter in former coach Michael Hagan.<br><br>Hagan, who quit the club at the end of 2008 following a disastrous season, believes a big win over the Cowboys next week could prove the catalyst for another strong finish to the year.<br><br>More importantly, he said the side shouldn’t be too concerned by yesterday’s 35-6 loss to the Warriors given the players that were absent.<br><br>“Just look at their team on the weekend – no Timana Tahu, no Ben Smith, no Jarryd Hayne, no Tim Mannah or Justin Poore,” Hagan said. <br><br>“And they’ve never travelled well to New Zealand. <br><br>“I know they are in a precarious place but I wouldn’t be too concerned – you need those guys on the field to give them the confidence to play well.”<br><br>Asked if the Eels were still a realistic chance of climbing back off the canvas, Hagan said: “Invariably there is a team that does it every year although Parramatta is at that critical stage where they need things to start happening. <br><br>“They need to get a wriggle on. It’s certainly getting to that critical point, if it hasn’t already got there.<br><br>“But you look at the game against Newcastle last year when they hadn’t been travelling that well and it proved to be the catalyst for their eight or nine wins.<br><br>“So it’s certainly possible.” <br><br><b>The Eels’ Run Home...</b><br>Rd 18 – Nth Qld (h)<br>Rd 19 – Penrith (a)<br>Rd 20 – Canterbury (a)<br>Rd 21 – Sydney Roosters (h)<br>Rd 22 – Gold Coast (a)<br>Rd 23 – Brisbane (a)<br>Rd 24 – Wests Tigers (h)<br>Rd 25 – South Sydney (a)<br>Rd 26 – Warriors (h)<br>
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