'NRL spots up for grabs': Hagan
Parramatta Eels coach Michael Hagan
Hagan, whose Parramatta side suffered indifferent form this year, said three or four Wentworthville players would see themselves in Eels colours in 2009.
The Eels mentor singled out Wentworthville winger Iwi Hauraki, centre James Grehan, props Broderick Wright, Jeremy Latimore, and second-rower Justin Horo as players on the cusp of playing first-grade football.
“Parramatta contracted about a dozen players for [the VB NSW Cup] competition and have already contracted 12 for next year,” Hagan said today.
“They are all guys we’ve contracted assuming they can play NRL and from that point of view we are really happy with what the [NSW Cup] has given them the opportunity to do.
“If they are playing well at that level it’s a good thing for us because they are better prepared for first-grade football.”
Hagan praised the performance of the joint venture between the Eels and Wentworthville, which has forged a clear pathway from the VB NSW Cup to the NRL for Wentworthville players.
“We were a bit nervous as to how [the joint venture] would work and how [Wentworthville] would fare,” Hagan said.
“But it has been managed very well with the Parramatta contingent and the Wentworthville contingent working well together.
“Rip Taylor has been excellent pulling it all together and he’s got a knack for getting teams to Grand Finals.
"There have been plenty of others instrumental in its success, particularly guys like Kevin Wise, and we’re very happy with what they’ve achieved.”
Hagan reiterated the likelihood of Wentworthville players earning their first-grade spots next year by naming those which had graduated to the top level this year.
“A good example would be the Premier League side from last year that went on to win the competition – guys like Junior Paulo, Weller Hauraki, Joel Reddy – they’ve all played first grade this year.”
Wentworthville face a red-hot Newtown Jets side which carries the mantle of being the only foundation club competing in a Grand Final this Sunday at ANZ Stadium.
Bursting with first-grade talent and a halves partnership boasting youth and experience in Ben Jones and skipper Sean Rudder, the Jets also feature a potent bench featuring young dynamo Jake Friend and Shane Shackleton.
Jets coach Greg Matterson said his players were proud to be representing the club 100 years after it was formed but that they needed no extra motivation to perform well on Sunday.
“It’s pretty special for the club but at the end of the day the boys will want to win because they’re competitive and they know you don’t get too many cracks at grand finals,” Matterson said.
“There’s a good feeling in the camp and the boys are looking forward to it.”
VB NSW CUP GRAND FINAL NEWTOWN JETS V WENTWORTHVILLE MAGPIES
VENUE: ANZ Stadium DATE:Sunday, 5th October 2008 TIME: 12.15pm