With plenty of former Parramatta stars representing both sides in the grand final this weekend, Eels captain Nathan Hindmarsh is in a good position to judge the battle.
Manly of course are led by Hindmarsh’s good friend Jamie Lyon and have former Eel Tony Williams in the back row, while the Warriors have 2009 Eels grand final combatants Krisnan Inu and Feleti Mateo lining up.
Hindmarsh feels both former Eels are genuine grand final X-Factors and will be key to the Warriors’ chances of claiming their maiden premiership.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Feleti Mateo and Krisnan Inu win one, Killer (Lyon) has won a couple before, in Super League and with Manly; so after what happened in '09 I’d love to see Feleti and Krisnan win one,” Hindmarsh said, before talking up the current form of the erratic Inu.
“What he (Inu) has been doing lately has been great, they’re (Warriors) going to kick to him, there’s no doubting that, he climbs up high and knows how to catch a ball and bring it down. I dare say they will kick straight to him a lot.
“On the other hand Krisnan, he is very inconsistent and that is why he spent a lot of time down with the Vulcans, but he has been given an opportunity with injury and he has grabbed it with both hands.
“Then there’s Feleti, he likes to take chances, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t but I think he understands where he is, what time of the game it is and their position on the field, so he is learning in that way.
“I like to see a bloke take some chances now and then and that’s what he is doing and that’s why the Warriors are in the grand final.”
Having made it to the grand final from sixth position is quite a performance and it’s one Hindmarsh has been both shocked to see and impressed by, admitting he didn’t expect to see the Warriors where they are now earlier in the year.
“After round one when we played them, no I didn’t think they would make it this far… but in saying that they have some very classy players and players that are going to work hard for each other, so it’s good to see them in the grand final,” Hindmarsh said.
“Did they deserve to be there after getting flogged by Brisbane by 30? Maybe not, but that’s the way the system has been set up, but they did beat the No. 1 side in the comp, I think, in Melbourne.”
In that victory the Warriors’ forward pack led the way, dominating the Storm and Hindmarsh feels this Sunday it will come down to another battle of the big men, with the Warriors having an advantage, especially if the predicted precipitation arrives.
“As much as we like to see the backs do their thing I think it will come down to a forward battle, particularly if it’s a bit drizzly and wet,” he said.
“I think the Warriors will be looking for a bit of rain. Being from New Zealand, they’re used to playing in that type of stuff and (rain) just suits forward packs. And the Warriors’ forward pack is a bit bigger and stronger than the Manly pack is.”
And what about Hindmarsh’s tip for the decider?
“At the moment I’m tipping Manly because of the players they have got, but if it does turn a bit wet then I’m going to have to change and go with the Warriors.”