Parramatta Eels young gun Jarryd Hayne and upcoming junior Taulima Tautai were making the most of their festive season before the hard road ahead in 2009; the popular Eels players celebrating in a big way at a local Parramatta Nitespot overnight.
The two Eels were among several hundred revellers at the Albion Hotel in Parramatta, an event on Sunday night that had to be closely monitored by local Police command and several new Police Public Order Squads. Also at the sold out event, wasÂ reformed NRL bad boy Wes Naiqama.
Hayne and Tautai are two key youngsters for the Eels, who along with the likes of Kris Inu and the Keating brothers are required to fire up to breathe new life into the aging roster at Parramatta. A roster that is seeing the twilight years of veterans Cayless, Hindmarsh and Wagon.
While new coach Daniel Anderson has reportedly marshalled his players along for Sunday afternoon training sessions, some media outlets reported Eels players unhappy with the new off-season weekend regime. While Parramatta players were naturally tight lipped about their new training day; not wanting to off-sideÂ the coach, the likes of Hayne and TT showed no signs of discontent as they made the most of their off-season late into Sunday night – hitting the dancefloor and mingling with friends and fans.
For Hayne, 2008 remained a forgettable year. While the young Eels outside back debuted for Fiji in the Rugby League World Cup – the year was kicked off with controversy after he was ‘shot at’ during a mix-up in Kings Cross. Hayne struggled to find top gear during the year, reports suggesting he asked to replace Luke Burt at the fullback position after poor on-field results for the Eels.
For Tautai, 2009 presents his big chance. With Tony Williams now moving to Manly, Ben Smith continuing to fight injury and Eric Grothe Jnr on the outter – early form from TT could see his cement a permanent Eels spot.
The flipside of the coin is the new boss Daniel Anderson, the former St Helens and Warriors coach starts from a clean slate and has little if any connection to any Eels players; excluding some of the older brigade such as Nathan Cayless, Nathan Hindmarsh and Daniel Wagon.
This could present a problem to some of the younger stars of the team, who according to some suggestions struggle with authority and are reluctant to toe the line.
With Anderson a noted hard liner and not having previous connections to players, he could open the door for new comers in the lower grades rather than fight personal battles with wayward young guns.