Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Tomorrow night the Parramatta Eels will take part in their first NRL Grand Final appearance in 13 years.
In 2009 the Eels were defeated 23-16 by the Melbourne Storm and saw an opportunity to end their premiership drought go up in smoke.
Parramatta’s efforts that year are made all the more impressive when taking into account the fact that they finished in eighth place on the regular season ladder and only scrapped into the finals due to a late run of form that was spearheaded by their fullback Jarryd Hayne.
The former New South Wales State of Origin representative had one of the most dominant ends to a season from any player in the NRL era as the ‘Hayne Plane’ craze took over the league.
One of Hayne’s teammates from the time Tim Mannah has spoken to The Daily Telegraph about the fullback and has made a big claim about him.
“Jarryd is still the best player I ever played with,” said Mannah.
“There’s a lot of people lining up to throw stones at Jarryd.
“Jarryd is still a massive Parra fan and that’s a real credit to his character.
The former junior coaches of Parramatta’s grand final squad knew these players were destined for great things. Each reveals an insight into the early years of the budding NRL stars – story via @FatimaKdouh_ @MCarayannis @brentread_7: https://t.co/7weiLflhUN
— Telegraph Sport (@telegraph_sport) September 29, 2022
“Talking to ‘Haynesy’, I know how excited he is for the boys. He can’t wait to watch the grand final.
“Me and Jarryd both want to see the Eels win a premiership we dreamed of and finally get that monkey off the club’s back after 36 long years.”
Mannah in his own right is a former Eels captain who played in over 200 games for the club.
He and Hayne have also been close friends since before their days playing first grade together and were even born on the same day.
As mentioned by Mannah both men will be hoping that the Eels can do what they couldn’t do 13 years ago by defeating their arch-rivals the Penrith Panthers in front of a sold-out crowd at Accor Stadium in the 2022 NRL Grand Final.
If Parramatta wins then it will be their first premiership win in 36 years and their fifth in club history; however, if the Eels lose then the drought of course continues and Penrith will go level with them with four premierships.