Parramatta have endured a torrid 2016 NRL campaign off the park but the Eels are bullish about what 2017 has in store.
They concluded their season with a solid 40-18 win over a hapless Warriors in the Auckland rain on Sunday, running in seven tries to the Warriors’ three.
The result means Parramatta would have qualified for finals football if not for salary cap breaches that cost them 12 points.
Prop Peni Terepo, 24, was philosophical about the achievement. He said the club had done well to rally after a string of off-field issues blighted their season.
As well as the salary cap breach, star recruit Kieran Foran quit with mental health problems and playmaker Corey Norman was suspended for drug possession.
Parramatta legend Jarryd Hayne also snubbed his boyhood team for the Titans.
Terepo admitted the Eels squad would rue what might have been but wouldn’t be too hard on themselves given the circumstances.
He was pleased his side could finish the season on a high.
“This is pretty much a semi-finals team and we deserve to be in there,” Terepo said.
“Our goal was to be there in October.
“That’s not the case now but that’ll still be our goal, we’ll just have to wait a bit longer.”
Rookie fullback Bevan French grabbed a hat-trick against a pliant Warriors backline, scoring 19 tries in 13 games this season overall.
Terepo wasn’t surprised by the young gun’s scintillating form.
“Just to see his natural ability, he’s got such great skills,” Terepo said.
“It’s good to see him come up through the grades.”
Teammate Kenny Edwards said the squad’s experiences through 2016 would better them.
He was glad the Eels got the monkey off their back with a victory and could start afresh next year.
“There’ll always be that question: what if the points didn’t get taken?” the 26-year-old Edwards said.
“But at the end of the day they did.”