An NRL blockbuster against the rampant Sydney Roosters is just the litmus test Parramatta great Mick Cronin wants for the ladder-leading Eels.
Cronin can’t identify many weakness in the current Parramatta team and believes they boast the firepower to match high expectations – having flattered to deceive too often over the last decade.
Their unbeaten (5-0) start will come under stress at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday against a Roosters side who have trampled all before them since lockdown, running up 129 combined points to 18 in wins over South Sydney, Brisbane and Canterbury.
Cronin believes the Roosters boast two of the game’s elite players in James Tedesco and Luke Keary but reckons Parramatta have the sort of confidence to topple the two-time defending premiers.
“They’ve been talked up quite a few times but you’ve got to think this season is their most genuine chance for a long time, Parramatta,” said Cronin, who played in four grand final wins for Paramatta in the 1980s.
“You’re pretty confident when they go out each week they’ll be hard to beat because they’re balanced across the park and are playing with self-belief.
“This will be the real test though and it’s one they need.
“They’ve been outstanding the last few weeks, Easts (Roosters). But they’ve probably played sides that have been struggling for form.”
Conversely, Cronin enjoyed seeing Parramatta fight back to overrun high-fliers Penrith last week, believing it showcased a spirit that has been instilled by coach Brad Arthur.
A relentless pack had unleashed halves Dylan Brown – “a player with a big future” – and Mitchell Moses while Cronin said veteran centre Michael Jennings was playing the best he could remember.
It was too soon to say Moses had the inside running for a NSW State of Origin jersey, Cronin said.
“He’s had some very good highs but the thing about Mitchell now is his consistency.
“It’s a long way to go but that’s what people are always looking for in his game. At the moment he has the consistency that all the good players have.”
The former NSW and Kangaroos centre said electric fullback Tedesco was clearly an ace in the Roosters pack, only emphasised by last week’s hat-trick against the Bulldogs.
However, Cronin pointed out the premiers’ overall direction and control was peerless.
“If you look at the best five players in the comp, well Tedesco’s definitely there but Keary might be in that group too.
“He’s very impressive – I’ve thought that for a long while but this year he’s just continued to get better.”