Positivity at Parra as 'resurrection' continues
A number of names at the top of the Parramatta hierarchy say the club is well positioned to continue to claw itself out of the mire next year after.
Coach Brad Arthur, captain Tim Mannah, acting chief executive John Boulos and chairman Steve Sharp all spoke in glowing terms of the efforts of players and staff in 2015 at the club's annual awards night on Tuesday night, but tempered that by emphasising the need for continued improvement and a need to match effort with better results in 2016.
The significant management overhaul out west since the dark days of back-to-back wooden spoons in 2012-13 has settled down although the club is yet to permanently fill departed CEO Scott Seward's role with Boulos acting in the position since mid-July.
"Two season ago we commenced our journey to reinvent the Eels as a premiership force in the NRL. This journey has taken many passengers aboard, from players, staff, officials, sponsors, members and the fans," Sharp told sponsors, members, fans, players and their partners and media this week.
"In 2014 we achieved a remarkable turnaround, from wooden spooners to the cusp of the finals."
He said the departure of 2014 Dally M Medallist Jarryd Hayne meant the club had to find a new style and identity from 2015.
"The coaching staff under the direction of head coach Brad Arthur looked at how to consolidate our strengths and underpin our weaknesses. While season 2015 might not have achieved the outcomes on ladder position we might have hoped for, the team developed a competitive resolve which made us all proud to be part of the Eels. For the first time in many seasons the players, the staff, the fans all celebrated a victory and shared the pain of a loss together."
Next year the club will take another step back towards premiership glory, he added.
Arthur said the club was in a strong position following strong debut seasons from the likes of youngsters like Daniel Alvaro and John Folau, with some classy recruits in the shape of Kieran Foran, Beau Scott and Michael Gordon inbound next year.
"No one's accepting not making the semi-finals. We're not happy about the position where we finished on the ladder [but] just to put things in perspective – there's still plenty of positives coming out of the year," Arthur said.
"Coming out of the 2014 season we spoke to the boys coming into 2015, we said we need to be physical, compete physically every week and I think this year we did that every week, we competed."
Arthur said the fact the side led at half-time or at some point in the second half in 20 of 24 games proved they were competitive but also highlighted the need for greater discipline in closing out games.
"So we competed, now we just have to learn how to win and that's what 2016 is about, is finding a way to win games of footy," Arthur said.
Mannah said he was excited by the direction the club was heading in.
"It's probably the best position we've been in as a club for a long time," Mannah told NRL.com.
"There's a lot of hard work still ahead of us this summer but if we work hard there's no reason why we can't have a good year next year."
Boulos said while the club didn't finish where it would have liked on the ladder in 2015 no one was faulting the efforts of the staff or players or the spirit within the team.
"Based on that, using that as a foundation I think there's anticipation that there's exciting times ahead," he said.