Eels finally move to clean up image

Michael Hagan Parramatta EelsParramatta’s recent track record with player behaviour has certainly blown out of control. While many complain about the Bulldogs and their on-going problems, the Eels have quickly built up a long list of unenviable events. There was the original drinking sessions of Mark Riddell and Tim Smith, then Smith got himself into trouble several times with the bottle, and lashing out at locals and each time the Eels sat back and watched, well this week it has all come to a head with the Jarryd Hayne drive-by after a late night in Kings Cross.

While no NRL player deserves to be assaulted or shot at; Jarryd Hayne and his team-mates still had a chance to walk away from the flare up before things got too heated and yet they still remained in the dangerzone and have come off second best.

The Eels after consulting with senior players have decided to ban Hayne, Paulo and Hauraki from Round 1 of the NRL and have slapped each with a $2000 fine. Probably a good start and a move towards keeping players in line, but the Eels and other NRL clubs know that if they go all the way and sack players – other clubs will quickly swoop in and pickup the player and the merry go round starts again.

The NRL itself probably needs to step in and set some boundaries to assist clubs to keep their players in check. We know that no-one is perfect, but as many have said – Kings Cross at 4am is sure to bring trouble for anyone, let alone a high profile star.

The loss of Jarryd Hayne will no doubt hurt the Eels in their season opener with the Bulldogs. While Parramatta have been solid in their trial form, the Bulldogs will be itching to avenge last seasons finals defeat and will be keen to launch and early season raid to get some revenge and give their coach some breathing space before the vultures come knocking.

With Hayne banned, the opportunity comes knocking for Joel Reddy. The promising outside back has been a solid backup for the Eels in the past and has more than served his apprenticeship after 2 reserve grade premierships. Competition will remain strong in the outside backs for the Eels, with Luke Burt assured of the custodian role and the likes of Kris Inu, Ben Smith, Joel Reddy, Jarryd Hayne and Eric Grothe Jr fighting it out for centre and wing spots.

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