BY CURTIS WOODWARD
These are the games that the Parramatta Eels lose. A clash against a Sydney Roosters savaged by injury and retirement. The Eels should have made a statement tonight after a shock loss to Canberra in round 19.
It is almost August.
And just as the winds come through winter as this time of the year does, the wheels start to fall off Parramatta’s campaign.
They were without their halfback Mitchell Moses.
But let’s not try to begin to use that as an excuse when you look at the Roosters roster.
Trent Robinson’s men have every right to fold over and start looking at 2022. Instead, they have now won four straight.
An incredible organisation.
On the other side of the paddock are the Eels.
They crumbled tonight.
Under their own pressure and the expectation that realistically should have beaten the Roosters and done it well despite the Roosters sitting just behind them on the ladder in 5th.
When the shit falls, the Roosters fight for everything.
But when it starts sprinkling on the Eels, they wilt under their own weight.
Parramatta playmaker Moses doesn’t have many fans around the league.
He wasn’t there tonight in Mackay.
The window into where the Eels are right now were the actions and reactions of their captain Clint Gutherson.
They call him ‘The King’ out their way apparently.
With the game lost and the Roosters inching towards victory late in the match, their captain turned on his own players.
This is a club that boasts the likes of Ray Price, Peter Sterling, Mick Cronin and Brett Kenny as their greatest leaders from the past.
Eels centre Tom Opacic was penalised in the shadows of full-time. A highly-agitated Gutherson abused him.
“F*** me you dumb c***!”
This is an NRL captain.
A few minutes later, the great Maika Sivo dropped a kick.
Gutherson turned and started spitting his chips again.
Mitchell Moses and his reactions is one thing.
Seeing it come from another leader of the side when the team is clearly struggling and needs some support is ugly.
What happened to all those years of players running over to their teammates and back-slapping and high-fiving when a side makes an error?
The great Craig Bellamy sure has dealt with some egos in his time as coach of the Melbourne Storm.
Brad Arthur is a similar style of coach and bloke.
Arthur even did his apprenticeship under Bellamy in Victoria.
The characteristics of his best players aren’t a mirror of Arthur.
Gutherson is a fairly decent fullback.
The haircuts and post-try dances are cool when the Eels are winning.
When your team starts losing in the business rounds and you start shitting on your own teammates – it all becomes a bit too much for everyone else.
Parramatta can’t win the competition this year.
They’re great for club memberships, merchandise and television ratings but until they stop smoking the fumes of their own hype – they’ll never get close to grand final day.
Especially when your so-called leaders think they are better than everyone else.