The big question for the Eels heading into 2015 was did they have enough points in them without Jarryd Hayne. The blue and gold have quickly answered that question with Corey Norman, Chris Sandow and company creating plenty of opportunities for their outside men. Big wins at home against the Rabbitohs and Manly and the gutsy win in Newcastle are clear highlights. Danny Wicks' return to the NRL and John Folau's two-try performance against the Rabbitohs have also been standouts.
One word: consistency. Every win has been followed by a loss and the quest for a complete 80-minute performance remains. The round six loss to the Titans at Pirtek Stadium was the team's worst performance at home in three years.
The 29-16 win against the defending premiers Rabbitohs in round four.
Corey Norman has stepped up to the plate in 2015 and been the one constant for the blue and golds. His kicking, passing and running game have been the cornerstone of the Eels' attack and his combination with Manu Ma'u is developing into one of the most dangerous in the NRL. Notable mentions: Reece Robinson, David Gower, Nathan Peats.
Reece Robinson and Brad Takairangi have been the standouts of the new brigade for the Eels. Robinson's good form has seen him shift to fullback and Takairangi will only improve when Semi Radradra returns to the left edge. The form of Anthony Watmough is a concern and he will need to lift to make the NSW team.
Injuries have put the Holden Cup team behind the eight ball but they still have managed three wins and will be a much improved team in the second half of the year with halfback Zach Dockar-Clay guiding the team around the park. Wentworthville have had a disappointing start to the year with only two wins in the NSW Cup. The Magpies are notorious slow starters and expect the likes of Adam Quinlan, Luke Kelly, Vai Toutai and Ryan Morgan to help press their NRL claims with strong performances in the next month.
The Eels have been busy in the open market signing internationals Kieran Foran and Beau Scott for 2015. They have also managed to re-sign John Folau, Brad Takairangi and Bureta Faraimo.
The Eels may have a week off this week but there will be several players involved in the representative round.
Hooker Nathan Peats and forward Joseph Paulo have been named in the City Origin squad, Wentworthville flyer Fabian Goodall has been selected for the Fiji Bati squad and Richie Fa'aoso, Peni Terepo, John Folau, and Manu Ma'u have been named in the Tongan squad. Holden Cup duo Alex Twal and Tyrell Fuimaono will join Tepai Moeroa in the Junior Kangaroos team to take on the Junior Kiwis; a team that includes under-20s playmaker Zach Dockar-Clay.
The Eels have a make or break six weeks after the representative round heading into their first bye that includes two games against the Storm and big games against the Cowboys and Rabbitohs.
"We tried hard but we have to try harder. You can't keep getting close and being close.We have to be better and we have to do more to try and turn the result," Eels coach Brad Arthur.
The Eels could easily be five wins and three losses and will lament losses against the Titans and Wests Tigers. The imminent return of Semi Radradra will boost their attack in the short term but finding a complete 80 minutes remains the long-term goal.