It’s the unavoidable fact that will haunt Parramatta until they break it but the NRL’s longest premiership drought is out to 35 years.
The Eels finished the 2020 season in third but were eliminated in straight sets after losses to eventual champions the Melbourne Storm before the South Sydney Rabbitohs delivered the knockout blow.
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While the losses were disappointing after another promising campaign went begging, the Eels now have a settled spine with Dally M fullback of the year Clint Gutherson, third-year five-eighth star Dylan Brown, halfback Mitch Moses and hooker Reid Mahoney solidly in place.
But it’s Moses who has had the Eels poisoned chalice of the famous No. 7 jersey sitting on his shoulders ahead of his fifth season with the club.
Since the Eels’ last Grand Final victory in 1986, the club has gone close to premiership glory, twice losing the decider.
And now the architect of the Eels 2001 Grand Final loss may just be the man to end the heartache of long suffering fans at three and a half decades.
Former Newcastle Knights superstar and rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns is now able to take a more hands on approach with the side as part of Brad Arthur’s coaching staff.
Johns was involved with the team last year but was outside the bubble and was seen coaching from the other side of a fence.
The Eels still believe Mitchell Moses is the man.Source:Getty Images
Moses told news.com.au at the Fox League launch, ahead of the 2021 season that can be streamed on Kayo, that Johns’ influence had been massive as the club looks to end the NRL’s longest drought.
“He’s been coming in two times a week, sometimes three, so we’ve been doing a bit more work with him because last year it was a bit hard with COVID because we had to stop and couldn’t see him as much,” Moses said.
“He’s been really beneficial for us as a spine and as a team I guess. We’ve been getting a bit more stuff that we’ve been working on with him at training into our training sessions.
“It’s outstanding. He’s one of the best halfbacks to play the game in my eyes and I looked up to him as a young kid so to be working with him at the moment is something special.”
While Moses added Johns was helpful last season, bubble life brought its challenges.
Hard to coach from the other side of the fence.Source:AAP
As the 2021 season nears, one has been the shorter pre-season, with Moses saying the side has even “benefited” from it, saying it’s been “better on the body”.
Last season Moses was on fire in the early stages of the season before a calf injury derailed his free flowing play as the season went on.
It was something he had to manage throughout the season but after getting some rest after the Eels were eliminated from the finals, he said he was ready to go for the new season.
Ahead of his fifth season in the No. 7 jersey made famous by Peter Sterling and his four premierships in the 80s, Moses said he’s learned to deal with the talk of the premiership drought.
“I’ve had it since I’ve moved here so it’s no different to anything else I’ve copped,” he said. “We haven’t won one in so many years so you’re going to cop it and you’ve just got to soak it up and try to get it done.”
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