Tim Smith and Andrew Johns Parramatta Eels 2008 NRLUnder pressure Parramatta Eels half-back Tim Smith has today sought indefinite leave from the club to get away from constant media pressure and to deal with on-going illness that has dogged him for the past 18 months. Its been widely reported that Tim Smith has battled alcoholism, but today he announced he has also been fighting bi-polar disorder at the same time.

The promising half has faced plenty of speculation at such a young age, Smith only 23 burst onto the scene and took Parramatta all the way in 2005 – the minor premiers missing out on the Grand Final after a loss to the Cowboys. The story was the same in 2007, with Smith combining well with Brett Finch to take the Eels close to the Grand Final.

Many have criticized Tim Smiths failure to run the ball to the line, the creative half preferring to rely on an astute passing game and pinpoint kicking game. When the Eels are winning, the talk of Smith’s failure to take on the line seems to die down. But in 2008 with inconsistent Eels form, he has faced consistent pressure from the media.

Citing illness and the pressure building around him, Tim Smith and manager David Riolo arrived at Eels training today to announce the half will be stepping down immediately.

It’s expected tomorrow that Eels coach Michael Hagan will select Brett Finch at halfback and Feliti Mateo at five-eighth. A combination that was working for Parramatta in earlier season games. The Eels will no doubt miss the short kicking game of Tim Smith – while he had his knockers, few could hold the ball on a string like Smith could.

The news wasn’t all bad for the Eels, with big centre Ben Smith making a successful comeback from injury in the lower grades last weekend and ready for selection in the Eels top squad.

We’d like to hear you opinion on Tim Smith and the situation at Parramatta.

Was the pressure and speculation around Smith warranted or was it too critical too soon after his comeback?

How do you think Parramatta will respond to the changes in the halves, will they see immediate results?

By ricky

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