Hindmarsh forecasts finals footy for Eels in 2017
Eels legend Nathan Hindmarsh is optimistic about his former side's prospects in 2017 despite Parramatta failing to reach the finals for the seventh year in a row.
Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the blue and golds last season, with the club stripped of 12 competition points for salary cap breaches, halfback Corey Norman stood down for the final eight rounds, star recruit Kieran Foran had his season cut short by injury, and then parted ways with the Eels due to personal issues.
Despite the repeated setbacks, the Eels still managed 13 wins and would have made the playoffs if not for their points penalty; an incredible scenario given their injury-ravaged campaign.
With all the dramas seemingly behind them, Hindmarsh is confident the Eels will enjoy a much more successful season in 2017.
"Without putting too much pressure on them, I think they'll be even more improved this year," he told NRL.com.
"I definitely see them in the semi-finals. And I think that's a start.
"I don't want to say too much because you never like hearing former players telling you that you're going to win the grand final when it's just unrealistic at this point in time.
"I think the important thing is that the boys start well and they stay in that top eight hunt instead of relying on mathematical equations in the last few weeks of the season like we've seen so often at the Eels in recent years."
Hindmarsh is expecting another big season from Corey Norman, and said his combination with Clint Gutherson in the halves would be the backbone to Parramatta's fortunes next year.
But it's not just the halves who are ready to shine, with Hindmarsh predicting a breakout year from Tepai Moeroa, who has been described by some as a 'mini Hindy'.
The 21-year-old was a shining light for the Eels in 2016, managing a career-best 22 games and increasing his workload considerably compared to his first two years in the NRL.
"I think it's just the looks because honestly our games are nothing alike," Hindmarsh said.
"I think Tepai Moeroa is ready to really step up in the back row now that he's had a few years in first grade. I think it's time he started demanding the football instead of being told 'here's the football'.
"There are a few things he has to work on, and having that rugby union background means there are still a few things he has to learn.
"I think he'll get there because he's got the size, the build and the desire to play well. I think he's someone you've got to keep an eye on in 2017."
According to the former Eels skipper, the key to nurturing players like Moeroa is the club's coach, Brad Arthur.
"I think Brad Arthur has been great for the club. He coaches, if that makes sense," Hindmarsh said.
"He doesn't just have a squad of talented rugby league players who he tells to go out and play well. He will actually coach them and break down the opposition and show video on how, why and when things happen, and that's what you need as a player."