Parramatta Eels show positive signs for the future

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 13:  Danny Wicks of the Eels is tackled by the Bulldogs defence during the round two NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium on March 13, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images) Danny WicksParramatta eels

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 13: Danny Wicks of the Eels is tackled by the Bulldogs defence during the round two NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium on March 13, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images) Danny WicksParramatta eels

In a year where they lost their best player to the NFL, had eight people ruled out for the season with injury and lost their halfback to the Super League, to have nine wins heading into the final round is a positive result.T

Three words: off field dramas. This included salary cap issues, contract sagas and the Chris Sandow debacle. The inability to put together an 80-minute performance cost the Eels any chance of playing in the finals.

Any win at Brookvale is one to savour but when you effectively end Manly's season in the process it is extra special. The 20-16 win in round 24 was their second win against the Sea Eagles in 2015.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29:  Semi Radradra of the Eels scores try during the round 12 NRL match between Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at Pepper Stadium on May 29, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29: Semi Radradra of the Eels scores try during the round 12 NRL match between Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at Pepper Stadium on May 29, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Semi Radradra edges out Corey Norman for the award here. The Fijian flyer has established himself as one of the game's premier wingers scoring 21 tries and making 22 line breaks.

Daniel Alvaro became Parramatta Eels player 772 when he made his debut in round 12. After limited game time, the front-rower showed his potential with an impressive stint against the Sea Eagles in round 24 where he made 18 tackles and ran for 109 metres from the bench.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 08: Brad Takairangi of the Eels makes a break during the round 13 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys at Pirtek Stadium on June 8, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) Brad Takairangi

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 08: Brad Takairangi of the Eels makes a break during the round 13 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys at Pirtek Stadium on June 8, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) Brad Takairangi

The combination of Corey Norman, Manu Ma'u, Brad Takairangi and Semi Radradra combined for 65 per cent of the Eels try in 2015. The Eels left edge was one of the most potent in the combination despite several players missing games with injury.

In seven games this year the Eels were leading at half-time before being run down. The worst of these when the blue and gold self-destructed against the Cowboys in round 13 when leading by 24.

The club finished the season with a record 22,824 members. It marks the third consecutive year the blue and gold has hit a new membership record.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 15:  Anthony Watmough of the Eels is tackled by Ryan Hinchcliffe of the Storm during the round 14 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Parramatta Eels at AAMI Park on June 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 15: Anthony Watmough of the Eels is tackled by Ryan Hinchcliffe of the Storm during the round 14 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Parramatta Eels at AAMI Park on June 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Reece Robinson's solo try against the Panthers in Darwin was the bright spot for the new recruits who have all battled injury. High profile pick-ups Wicks, Watmough and Takairangi all made solid contributions throughout the season.

Nathan Peats became the eighth player ruled out of the season when he fractured his neck in round 23. He joined Brad Takairangi (foot), Danny Wicks (shoulder), Anthony Watmough (knee), Richie Fa'aoso (shoulder), Kaysa Pritchard (pectoral), Beau Champion (knee) and Kenny Edwards (knee) on the sidelines with long-term injuries.

Anthony Watmough celebrated 300 games, Isaac De Gois 200 and skipper Tim Mannah 150. Semi Radradra broke a record set by Ray Preston in the 1950s for the most consecutive games with at least a try-scoring double, between round 12 and 17 where he notched up 11 tries.

Centre Beau Champion was forced to retire from the NRL due to an ACL injury sustained during the round two match against Canterbury. Champion played 107 NRL games.

There is plenty to look forward to for Eels fans with the arrival of several key players for 2016. The most notable additions are Kieran Foran, Beau Scott and Michael Gordon.

"I am proud of them, and it's something that needs to burn in us a little bit in the preseason that we played some really good footy, played with energy and toughed it out in some really tough times but we have to get better," Brad Arthur said.

The Eels will look back in 2015 and think what might have been if things had played out a little differently. No doubt rounds 10-18 were the bright spot where they managed to win four games in between their byes and narrowly lose to the Warriors, Rabbitohs and Cowboys. What might have been if they had won those three games? They will have an off-season to think about it.

The story Eels' turbulent year not all bad with signs of better times ahead next season first appeared on Parramatta Sun.

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