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2016 Best Buys: Parramatta Eels

NothingButLeague is looking at the best buys for each club in the National Rugby League. In this article we will be looking at the Parramatta Eels whose 2015 season was a disappointing one. Whilst managing to avoid the wooden spoon and prove they are more than a one-man team, the Eels struggled for consistency and had a habit of letting teams come from behind to achieve victory. With a busy off-season recruitment the Eels will look to rectify these mistakes in 2016 and these three key buys will go a long way towards improving the team roster and building for the future.

3. Clinton Gutherson
Position: Fullback, Centre, Wing
Previous clubs: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

Clinton Gutherson is an extremely talented young player who was let go from the Sea Eagles due to salary cap pressure and the emergence of fellow youngster Tom Trbojevic. A fullback for the U20’s NSW side, Gutherson’s signing is an example of the Eels developing a team for the future and he will be hungry for an opportunity to cement a place in first grade and he can do just that with an opening on the right flanks. That desire and drive to earn a spot will also have the benefit of lifting his team-mates up who will have to step up their game to compete for those available positions.

A try-scoring whiz with 4 tries from 5 appearances in first grade to date, Gutherson provides the Eels with an attacking spark and an ability to cover multiple positions in the backline making his versatility incredibly useful for the Eels in 2016.

2. Michael Gordon
Position: Fullback, Wing
Previous clubs: Penrith Panthers, Cronulla Sharks

The first thing to note about Michael ‘Flash’ Gordon and what a difference he can to make to the Eels is his goal-kicking. Chris Sandow’s conversion skills had been a little hit and miss in his years at Parramatta but Gordon brings along a conversion rate of 82.17% and so Eels fans may be able to rest a bit more easy knowing whether they’ll be going up in 6’s or not.

Aside from a sharpshooting boot though an important element Gordon has is a wealth of experience which is something the Eels will invariably benefit from in 2016. A seasoned veteran who can mentor young talent coming through like Gutherson and provide a calm and confidence at the back, Gordon will add a consistency to the Eels as their custodian. Safe under the high ball, solid in defence and adept at linking with his team in attack, Gordon might be one of the underrated buys of 2016.

1. Kieran Foran
Position: 5/8, Halfback
Previous clubs: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

The well publicized star recruit for the Eels in the 2016 season, Kieran Foran arrives at his new team with a mountain of expectation including some fans and media who have championed Foran’s signing as the best signing and recruitment they’ve made in more than a decade. Expectations aside Foran provides the Eels with a level of consistency, premiership winning experience and a basis for a team of the future that can be built around him.

Foran was an exceptional supporting half for Daly Cherry-Evans in his years at Manly and his combination with Shaun Johnson at the International level for the Kiwis helped New Zealand manufacture 3 straight victories over the Australians, a feat they had not achieved since 1953. He was able to help achieve this because of what a well rounded game he has. A terrific passing game, a solid kicking game and a well placed sense of timing for running the ball himself and showing up in support. All these elements already make Foran an invaluable signing but it’s his desire to take his game to a whole new level under Brad Arthur that makes Foran’s signing such a key one for the Eels.

Foran’s goal to become a dominant playmaker and raise his efforts to assume a position of leadership for his new team is what could really ignite a fire within the Eels for 2016.

Roosters fan, a club proud to be developing local juniors and being compliant with the cap. League is the greatest game of all, Tennis pretty close behind.

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