Following the retirement of prop and club stalwart Nathan Cayless at the end of the 2010 season, the decision has been made to make current Eels legend Nathan Hindmarsh as captain for the 2011 season.
Hindmarsh, who was one of several co-captains under Cayless last year, will be making the transition to the captaincy, as he takes over from an Eels side that is very similar to last year in that the playing group is relatively unchanged.
”A lot of the boys know the look already,” Hindmarsh chuckled.
”A few of the young blokes don’t know it, but they’ll soon find out [from me].
”It’s not that Nath didn’t like talking; he just felt he didn’t need to talk too often. When he did, we all listened. That was the good thing about it – he didn’t overtalk and when he did, we all shut up and listened. I like that.
”That’s one of the things I’ll take from Nath, definitely.”
Hindmarsh is regarded as one of the best second-rowers to represent the club, and he approaches his role with the club with great aplomb.
”[Cayless] had a hard work ethic,” Hindmarsh said. ”He was no fuss, just a bloke who worked very hard on the field and off it. There was never any complaint and that’s what I’m trying to do this year.
”In the past, I’ve whinged about something here or there under my breath. This year I’m focused on trying not to do that because it can really rub off on the rest of the boys and that’s not a good thing.
”[Captaincy] is still a learning process for me.
”I’ve taken on more responsibility this year already when it comes to discipline, team events, what we’re looking to do on the field, all that sort of stuff.
”Instead of leaving it all up to Nath, which I did last year, it’s more on my shoulders. I’m taking more of an active role.”
It won’t only be Hindmarsh taking up a leadership role with new coach Stephen Kearney has appointed a leadership group consisting of captain Hindmarsh, Ben Smith, Luke Burt and Tim Mannah.
”When you see the captains who have done it before, it’s such an honour a great club like Parramatta,” Hindmarsh continued.
”I haven’t had much time to think about it but the more I talk to you, the more I think about it and the more excited I get.
”I don’t feel different; I’m not going to change the style of football I play. Of course, I’m going to say I want to carry the ball more and do less tackles but I’ve been saying that for 10 years.
”I’ll be the same old me. I’ll probably have a bit more to say on game day and at training as well, but other than that I’ll be the same.”
The attitude of the club has also changed drastically under Kearney, as he looks to make the Eels a side that other teams are scared to play.
”The way we’re training this year, the team is doing that,” he said. ”If someone is not having a dig, it’s the team that is pulling guys up.
”It could be a young person like Jacob Loko, who sees someone is not putting in. He’s got the authority at the moment to give them a hurry-up. That’s the team mentality we’re taking on this year – don’t let anyone down.”
In the words of Nathan Hindmarsh, he talks about new coach Stephen Kearney, pre-season training, representative football, and 2011 expectations.
On Stephen Kearney
”Very good. Quiet. Very thorough. Easy to get on with. We’re still sussing him out, what we can get away with, a bit of cheek here and there. The first thing he did when he came in here was set the rules. The main message was ‘If you want to be here, you’ve got to work hard – if you don’t want to, you can go right now.’ We all sat up in our seats and realised this was serious. A good bloke.”
On pre-season training
”It’s the toughest for quite some time now. It’s not enjoyable when you’re doing it but when you finish you get a nice sense of satisfaction after completing such a hard task. We’ve gone back to more traditional stuff for Parramatta, more hills, more longer-distance running than what we’ve been doing in the last five or six years. The boys don’t get too much sleep on Sunday night thinking about that Monday morning [hills] session.”
On representative football
”I’ve retired. I didn’t make this year’s Four Nations side so that’s pretty much it. I’ll never say never. If they’re looking for a 31-year-old back-rower to fill a spot, I’m always available.”
On 2011 expectations
”We’re hoping to improve on last year but that’s as much as I can say. The start of the season is still a long way away. At this stage we’re just trying to get as fit as we can before Christmas. We haven’t set any team goals yet. It’s just heads down, bums up and we’re trying to run as fast as we can for as long as we can.”