Parramatta’s capitulation to NRL premiers Sydney Roosters is all part of the Eels’ journey of self-discovery, according to back-rower Joseph Paulo.
With a new coach in Brad Arthur and a swag of new players, the once-mighty blue and gold were a unknown entity heading into the 2014 season.
They kicked off their campaign with an impressive 36-16 win over the Warriors, only to be shot down 56-4 by the Roosters a week later.
“We didn’t make it easy for ourselves,” Paulo told AAP.
“We were really disappointed because we know there’s so much more we can offer.”
As much as Paulo and his teammates would like to put last year and the Eels’ two successive wooden spoons behind them, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to seasons past.
The Eels started 2013 in similar fashion – beating the Warriors 40-10 at home before dropping their next three matches, including a 50-0 drubbing by the Roosters. They went on to lose 13 of their remaining 16 games.
“We’ve definitely put last year behind us. This is a new year, new coach, new players and we’re just all trying to fit into the same system,” Paulo said.
“We’re still trying to find what kind of team we want to be.
“Games like that (against the Roosters) can either help us define who we want to be or, otherwise, we can just be the same as we’ve been in the past.
“When you see a glimpse like we did against the Warriors, I know there’s definitely the passion and the attitude there.
“But you can’t be good one week and off the other week. So we’ll definitely look to turn it around this week.”
Veteran forward Ben Smith admitted seeing Saturday’s scoreline was a bitter pill to swallow.
“At the end of the game, when you think about that sort of stuff, it is frustrating,” Smith said.
“It’s frustrating that the tries scored were soft – especially at the level of competition that we’re at, they shouldn’t be allowed.
“The best thing about it is they’re things that can be fixed.
“We’ve just got to stick together, stay confident in each other and believe in each other.”
Things won’t get any easier on Sunday, when the Eels face last year’s grand finalists Manly at Brookvale Oval.