Ben Smith Parramatta Eels NRL 2008Parramatta Eels coach Michael Hagan has said the long awaited return of his centres pairing is the answer to the Eels problems so far this season. Boom youngster Krisnan Inu and the big, strong Ben Smith were key components to the Parramatta side of 2007, yet the pair have hardly played a game this season.

While the halves looked to have been the problem at times for the Eels, on occasions looking rudderless in attack – the spark provided by Inu and Ben Smith cannot be denied. To compound the problem, the Eels have been without Mark Riddell for several games – Piggy able to offer his back-up kicking and playmaking at times.

Last year Inu was able to create a try from nothing, grabbing 4 pointers when there was seemingly no way through. For Smith, the big man was able to run over the top of players and his jamming in defence was feared by many opposing attackers. Ben Smith could immediately get his side some momentum with a strong defensive hit or a diving cover tackle.

Parramatta need Inu more than ever. The Eels were short favourites for the minor premiership alongside the Storm early in 2008 and so far have actually ended up the biggest disappointment of the season.”Given what he’s coming back from there may be a possibility that might happen, but we haven’t really confirmed that yet,” Hagan said of a Wentworthville return.

“We’ve missed Krisnan and we’ve missed Ben Smith. They both offer a lot defensively and offensively in attack. I reckon we’ve missed Timana Tahu a fair bit.”

Inu’s recovery has meant working with Eels trainer Craig Catterick in the gym, strengthening the rest of his body. With the cast off, Inu has started wearing a specially-designed boot and is working on stability.

“I needed to bulk up a bit so this has been pretty much the best chance I’ve had to do that,” Inu said.

“I wanted to get a bit stronger for my position. As you can see, Timana (Tahu) worked heaps on that last year and he just ripped up anyone that was in front of him.

“The boys, I don’t know about the boys. Everyone knows we can play it’s just a matter of doing it out on the field.

“Everyone’s expecting us to match our form from last year, but we’ve finally realised that whatever we did last year is different to what we’re doing this year.”

By ricky

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