Eels hooker Matt Keating has ripped into some of his Parramatta team-mates, accusing them of not trying hard enough, following the Eels' dismal 46-12 NRL loss to Canterbury on Friday night.
The hooker, making his 100th appearance for the club, was one of the few Eels players to emerge with any credit from the game, as Stephen Kearney's side slumped to their eighth defeat of the year - the worst start by a Parramatta team in 52 years. The Eels led 12-4 five minutes before halftime, before Des Hasler's side reeled off three quickfire tries to stun their old rivals, who capitulated in the second half. Kearney said certain members of his team lacked the toughness to play at NRL level and Keating was equally damning.
"I don't know if we are trying too hard," Keating said. "There seems to be some boys that are trying and some that aren't. Steve talks every week about doing your job but we don't seem to be doing that. We look away for one moment and it burns us."
Parramatta fell away badly in the second half of last year and avoided the wooden spoon by only a single point and Keating believes that's still hanging over the team.
"It's that mental toughness," he said."When a team scores against us, we drop our heads. I can't understand why we keep doing it. It's down to a lack of concentration and individual errors, and it's costing us every week."
A shellshocked Kearney was subjected to a barrage of abuse from disgruntled Eels supporters after the game, but found an ally in Canterbury coach Des Hasler. He sympathised with the plight of his opposite and urged the Eels to back the Kiwi test coach.
"It's difficult for Stephen and his club in what they are going through at the moment," Hasler said."But the only way they can get out of it is to stick by him and one another and ride it out."
For his part, Des Hasler hailed free-scoring centre Josh Morris and backed him to shine for NSW should selectors opt to restore him to the Blues line-up for this month's State of Origin opener.
Morris grabbed his second hat-trick of the season in the Bulldogs' 46-12 humbling of Parramatta, taking his total for the year to eight tries in nine NRL appearances.
The 25-year-old former St George Illawarra star has not played Origin since 2009, and Hasler believes his form is good enough to face Queensland in the May 23 clash in Melbourne.
"Josh's form has been fantastic right through the whole year," Hasler said."Statistically he has done all of the right things. He carries the ball so well and I'd imagine his name will be up there in State of Origin terms."
The win ended a run of three successive losses for the Bulldogs, who were edged out by Melbourne and Manly in their last two games, but despite the emphatic scoreline against the Eels, Hasler stopped short of calling it their best performance since his arrival from Manly.
"I think we've played better in some areas, we probably didn't tackle as well as we did the previous two weeks," he said. "But we've been competing really well and if anything we'll take a lot of confidence from this moving forward and that's the important thing for a young side."