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Nathan Hindmarsh earned many an admirer during a stellar 330-game NRL career for the Eels, but it is his September results that are usually the first to be discussed.

The fact Hindmarsh was a one-club man meant all his finals action came in blue and gold.

The rugged second-rower failed to win a premiership, and as he recounted in this week's edition of Big League magazine, many of his efforts in preliminary finals also ended in sorrow.

The late-game collapse against the Bulldogs in 1998 doesn't start Hindmarsh's memories on a high note.

"Things looked good at 18-2, but you're never safe no matter the score. The Bulldogs stormed home and got us in extra-time. It's the one that got away and still hurts to this day," Hindmarsh said.

"A similar thing happened against the Storm the following year. We were probably the better side on the day but we blew a few chances with the ball. We were in front late in the game, but again, they found a way to get through us to reach the decider.

"Not even a new millennium could change our fortunes. We won our first two finals but then came up against a red-hot Broncos side [in 2000]. I thought it was always going to be tougher against them.

"I didn't have that same confidence as I'd had the previous years. We stuck with them for most of the match, but they were a very good side and it showed in the end."

Luckily for Hindmarsh, things improved after that. He was part of the 2001 and 2009 teams that advanced to grand finals with wins over Brisbane and Canterbury respectively.

As Eels fans sadly remember, both trips to the grand final ended in defeat. The Storm were later stripped of their premiership due to salary cap issues, but that doesn't provide any solace to Parramatta fans.

The strangest preliminary final for Hindmarsh's Eels came in 2005, a match the second-rower missed through injury.

"We had to wait four years before we reached another prelim. Unfortunately, I wasn't there because I'd injured my PCL in round 26. Sitting on the sidelines, we had so many chances early on against the Cowboys but we couldn't turn that into points.

"The Cowboys turned it around and ended up putting 30 points on us. Being on the sideline having to watch that hurt, so I can only imagine what it must have felt like to have been on the field. If the boys had made the GF, I don't think I would've played."

 

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