Former champions says Eels will make NRL finals series
By Dean Ritchie
From: The Daily Telegraph
August 11, 2009 12:00AM
Tipped for the finals...the in-form Parramatta Eels. Source: The Daily Telegraph
MIGHTY Parramatta, the team that has set alight the NRL with four successive victories, are ready to barnstorm into this year's Telstra Premiership finals along with rivals and neighbours Penrith.
The Daily Telegraph yesterday polled five former champion players to reveal which teams would finish in positions five through eight given St George Illawarra, the Bulldogs, Gold Coast and Melbourne have all but sealed top-four places.
Parramatta received four votes from the five, as did Manly, Penrith and North Queensland.
The panel of Glenn Lazarus, Steve Mortimer, Bradley Clyde, Paul Langmack and Terry Lamb, collectively, could not find room for Brisbane, Souths, Wests Tigers and Newcastle. The Tigers did, however, attract three votes. Souths and Newcastle were completely friendless.
Seven Sydney teams remain in contention for this year's NRL title.
But it was the Eels who were the shock finals choice, given the club is still in 11th place.
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"Parramatta is playing with a lot of confidence and they have momentum," former Canberra, NSW and Australian back-rower Clyde said.
"Teams that have momentum use it well at this time of year.
"I think Parramatta has a good mixture of youth and experience and they are all playing for one another and for the jersey."
Lamb, the former champion Dogs player, also supported the Eels.
"Parramatta are on a roll," Lamb said. "They have a good halves combination and Fuifui Moimoi is the key. They also have Feleti Mateo to come back.
"Wests Tigers are too flamboyant for me. They throw the ball around too much although they have a great second-rower (Gareth Ellis)."
Langmack, who won three premierships at Canterbury, likes the Eels and Tigers, but not premiers Manly.
"Wests Tigers have improved their defence," Langmack said. "Earlier this year, their defence was dreadful. Gareth Ellis has shown the way. He is smashing people.
"I think Parra has momentum too. Daniel Mortimer, he isn't an athlete - he's a footballer.
"Manly should have won their last two games. They have lost momentum. I think they will go down as a side that won the premiership but couldn't make the finals the following year."
Mortimer likes what he sees in Daniel Anderson's Eels.
"Wests Tigers have a tough draw and have been too hot and cold this season," Mortimer said. "They can't afford a slip-up. Parramatta is on a roll. They look like a side building toward the finals."
Lazarus was the only former great to omit the Eels from his final eight.
"Parramatta have a lot of momentum but I think they have left their run a little too late," he said.
"They are in the unfortunate situation of having to hope for other teams to lose."