Parramatta Eels player power alive and kicking
Player power is alive and well at Parramatta and on again this week in a bid to topple premiership contenders South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Thursday.
"Some of the boys are still celebrating – it's been a long time coming," said Josh Hoffman of the 20-14 win over the Cowboys in Darwin last Saturday.
It was just the third win of the Telstra Premiership season for the Eels, coming after five straight losses, and it was built off the back of the players' own ideas. Coach Brad Arthur virtually handed them the whistle.
"A lot of the team runs and plays came off us – mainly Corey Norman. So we're just going back to the players taking the reins a bit more," Hoffman said.
"It worked last week and we're going to put into place again this week."
Eels veteran Brad Takairangi said the players were keen to implement their plans once more.
"Once again we'll let our actions do the talking," he told NRL.com.
"It was refreshing because it was a change to what we've done over the last three or four years. I feel like it worked and I hope we get the result again this week."
Skipper Tim Mannah also liked the restructure of players running the video sessions and team meeting on the heaviest training day. The Eels also now have three days off before a captain's run, not two, and make that final run the lightest of the week.
"It's been really good to see the players take ownership. A few different players spoke about what they saw we needed to do," Mannah said.
"It's pretty much the messages the coaches were giving us but the players were showing they knew what the job was.
"The position we're in – we haven't had a good season so far – so we were willing to try anything."
The downside is the win fed into the rumour mill that the Eels players aren't listening to Arthur. And because halfback Mitch Moses was absent due to a knee injury, speculation heightened he and Norman were not gelling any more.
Moses has been named on the extended bench for the Rabbitohs game.
"He ran today and ran well. Let's see how he comes up tomorrow," Mannah said of Moses.
As for the "they don't get on" talk, Mannah rolled his eyes.
"They both get on well on and off the field. It's just that when you're losing everyone finds something… the rumours keep going around.. and none of them were true," he said.
As for the 3-11 record being a reason to roll Arthur and get a new head coach, Mannah said: "It comes when you're not performing. All that noise gives it ground.
"It's not what you want to hear. If we continue to win some games that will all go away."
Mannah was also in the mood to support NRL chief executive Todd Greenbeg on his quest to have referees not blow so many penalties, while still cleaning up the ruck area.
"To watch that Origin match [last Wednesday at the MCG, five penalties] was really refreshing," Mannah said.
"The game just flowed and it was enjoyable to see the nature of that free-flowing football.
"I've tried to avoid getting into the argument over x-amount of penalties this year, but that Origin game was the proof in the pudding. If you let the game flow it's a better spectacle to watch and it's more fun for us to play to be honest."