THEY may have collected their second consecutive wooden spoon, but 2004 could be the year that the red and green of South Sydney laid the foundations for a brighter future.
TIME is running out for Brian Smith to get results at the Parramatta Eels. The under siege head coach will have few excuses if he fails to at least achieve a finals berth in 2005, after overseeing the Eels worst season since 1995. The signings of Dragons hooker Mark Riddell, Cowboys lock Glen Morrison, Newcastle and NSW winger Timana Tahu, Warriors rake PJ Marsh, as well as toilers Paul Stringer and Chad Robinson have raised expectations for a far more productive 2005. However, the cynics still believe that the once ?super coach? Smith is past his time. Veteran CEO Denis Fitzgerald has also copped strong criticism from the media and Eels fans for his loyalty to Smith.
ONCE silvertails of the NRL, the Manly Sea Eagles continued their long re-building phase in 2004 as they aim to regain the respect of their glory days.
THE Tigers were one of the big improvers in 2004 but it still wasn?t enough to secure a first finals berth for the joint venture club.
IT?S time to get out the calculators and do the sums, as the Tigers (24 Pts, -15), the Raiders (24 Pts -99), the Sharks (24 Pts -101), the Eels (22 Pts -71), and the Knights (22 Pts -111) take part in the Race for 8th in Round 26.
SEVEN into four just doesn?t go, it?s as simple as that. As the NRL Telstra Premiership 2004 season embarks on its final month of regular season fixtures, to see who will secure those precious finals berths in the bottom half of the eight.
THEY are a forgotten trio and betting has been suspended on their premiership chances. However, there will still be plenty of pride on the line in the final few rounds for those at the wrong end of the table.