St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor assures Parramatta fans there is a silver lining having seen ominous clouds recently clear from over his own club.
The Eels go into Saturday’s NRL clash between the two at Pirtek Stadium in a state of disarray with the Kieran Foran contract saga still unresolved.
It was just three months ago that the Dragons were facing a bleak future and an angry backlash from their fans.
Disenchanted Red V supporters began a #SaveOurSaints social media campaign, brandishing “Oust Doust” banners at games in a bid to have Dragons CEO Peter Doust sacked.
After losing their opening two games and over the past year failing to hold on to local juniors Brett Morris and Trent Merrin – who will join Penrith next season – fans reacted angrily.
Parramatta are facing a similar fan revolt in the face of speculation Manly five-eighth Foran is preparing to back out of his deal to join them next year after a contract blunder.
The Eels and Foran’s management were on Friday still in negotiations however he is tipped to honour his contract.
Eels fans have launched a #ReclaimOurEels campaign and on Sunday will protest outside Parramatta Town Hall against what they see as board mismanagement.
Coach Brad Arthur is also reportedly on thin ice and potential replacements are being scouted, however this has been denied by club chairman Steve Sharp.
However, if there is an example of how quickly a club can turn around their fortunes it is the Dragons who are this year’s surprise packets.
Having last week re-signed Jason Nightingale – their final major player off-contract at season’s end – and sitting comfortably in the top four after 15 rounds, the Dragons’ future now looks bright under McGregor.
“I think the stability has been coming over a period of time,” McGregor said.
“It’s very pleasing that guys are putting their faith in the Red V and in the structure we’ve got in place, to have some key people who have been a big, important part of what we’re about this year sign and stay when other clubs have been interested in them.
“It’s a real show of faith.”
McGregor said he expected the Eels to be galvanised on Saturday night after a week of high drama.
“I’m expecting a team that’s going to come out with a lot of purpose and we’ve got to meet that,” McGregor said.
“They’re playing at home in front of a home crowd and a lot’s been said about their club during the week.”
The Eels say back-rower Anthony Watmough is a chance to return from a shoulder injury.
Dragons second-rower Joel Thompson could also make a comeback from a hamstring injury after training strongly.
STATS THAT MATTER
* The Eels are chasing back to back wins for the first time since last year.
* Parramatta have won just two matches at Pirtek Stadium this year and have won their past four at home.
* Eels winger Semi Radradra has scored two tries in each of his last three matches.
* Up to round nine Gareth Widdop had forced 13 goal line drop outs and Benji Marshall eight but in the Dragons’ past four matches they have just one each.