The Parramatta Eels have had limited success in their seventy years in the National Rugby League competition.
Taking thirty years just to reach their first grand final, which they would lose to their greatest rivals the Manly Sea Eagles, the Eels had their glory days in the mid-1980s.
They played in five grand finals and won four from 1981 to 1986.
Unfortunately, it took 15 years for the club to reach another grand final but they would lose again, this time to the Newcastle Knights. Later that decade, they went down again to the Melbourne Storm in 2009.
Despite their disappointing record, Parramatta have produced some of the best players of the ages. So here are the top ten players for the Eels.
10. Bob ‘The Bear’ O’Reilly
Bob O’Reilly had two stints at the club with a total 205 games played. While not finding any success in the 1970s, he would return to the club to win the 1981 and 1982 premierships. He represented New South Wales nine times and Australia in 16 games.
9. Nathan Cayless
The only Kiwi on the list, Cayless played 258 games for the club and captain the team for 218 of those games. This is still the record for most games captained in the NRL. Furthermore, he played 38 Tests for New Zealand and captained the team to the 2008 World Cup victory.
8. Steve Ella
The Zip Zip man played 153 games for the club and was a part of the premiership-winning era. Scoring 94 tries for the club, he would play eight Origins for NSW and four tests for Australia.
7. Eric Grothe Snr
In 152 games at the club, Grothe scored 78 tries. His speed and skill resulted in some of the best tries ever seen. He would play in eight Origin games, nine Tests for Australia and all four grand final victories.
6. Nathan Hindmarsh.
A true club loyalist, Hindmarsh played the most games for the Eels with 330 over his 15-year career. In his illustrious career, he was the first man to make 10,000, 11,000 and 12,000 tackles. He also won the Dally M second-rower of the year five times.
Despite all this, Hindmarsh never won a premiership despite being in both the ’01 and ’09 grand finals. He represented NSW 17 times and played 23 Tests for Australia.
5. Mick Cronin
Following his 216 games with the Eels, Cronin is the highest points scorer for the club with 1971 points. Cronin played in all four of the club’s premiership victories. Along with Ray Price, Cronin retired as a grand final winner. He played in the first State of Origin for NSW and went on to play five more times. He also played 33 Tests for Australia.
4. Brett Kenny
If not for Wally Lewis, Kenny would have been the greatest five-eighth of the era, if not of all time. He had a skill set that has not been seen before or since. He and Peter Sterling made the best halves pairing ever seen for the Eels and NSW. In his 265 games for the club – a record that stood from 1993 til 2010 – Kenny scored 110 tries.
In 1983 he scored 21 tries for the season, this is still the second highest for the club. With 17 appearances apiece for NSW and Australia he is one of the club greats.
3. Ray Price
Price was a winner in whatever he did. As a representative for NSW and Australia in both union and league, he would achieve great things at the Eels. In 1979 he won the Rothmans Medal and won the Dally M Medal in 1982.
Price captained the Eels to premiership glory and along with Mick Cronin retired a winner in 1986. He played 258 games for the club, made 15 appearances for NSW and played 23 Tests for Australia.
2. Jarryd Hayne
He is the Eels’ player of a generation and the best player the club has produced since their glory days. Unfortunately, as great as Hayne is, he is still yet to win a title. Considering he has just recommitted to the Gold Coast Titans he may never win one with the blue and gold.
For his 176 games at the club, Hayne became a dual Dally M Medal-winner for the 2009 and 2014 seasons. Scoring 102 tries for the club, he represented NSW 20 times and Australia 12 times before leaving the NRL to chase an NFL dream.
Although he was only in the NFL for eight games during his stint with the San Fan Sisco 49ers, he did what no other NRL player has ever achieved.
1. Peter Sterling
There’s no doubt Sterling is the best man ever to put on the blue and gold jersey. In 1986 and 1987, Sterling won the Dally M Medal. He took part in all of the club’s grand final victories and in 1986 he earned himself the Clive Churchill Medal. Sterling played 13 Origins for NSW, 18 Tests for his country and 227 games for his beloved club.
As always, do you agree with my list? Who is your favourite Eels player?