Deeper concern behind Maika Sivo’s form slump
Parramatta wrecking ball Maika Sivo's form leading into the new NRL season would have to be a huge concern for everyone at the Eels.
While the club is still waiting for official confirmation from the NRL to clear the Fijian flyer to play in the season opening clash against Canterbury next Thursday, what is worryingly obvious to all is that Sivo's pre-season performances show that last season's leading try scorer is well off his game.
Sivo has pleaded not guilty to indecent aussault charges in his home country for allegedly touching the skirt of a waitress in Fiji on Boxing Day last year.
Sivo has been granted permission not to appear when the case returns to court, the same day as the NRL's 2020 opening clash at Bankwest Stadium.
It is unlikely the NRL will sanction him as part of the no fault stand down policy given Sivo's charges do not carry a sentence of over 11 years, meaning they don't meet the NRL's controversial guidelines.
But Sivo's availability so far in the preseason does not cover the cracks to what has obviously been a troubled build up since the New Year.
On the back of an uninspiring performance at the NRL Nines, Sivo produced another lacklustre effort in the trial match against Penrith in Bega.
It especially stood out like a sore thumb given how impressive Parramatta's overall performance was.
Sivo was obviously concerned himself as he was also spotted at training during the week despite the fact the rest of his teammates got three days off after returning from Bega.
It would also have to be a concern for Brad Arthur given how significant a role Sivo played for the Eels last year, when he crossed for 22 tries as well as averaging 146m with 89 tackle busts, 23 linebreaks and two try assists.
Fox Sports Stats show that Sivo had eight runs against Penrith for 71m, zero tackle busts, 1 tackle, 1 missed tackle and an error.
Arthur has other options available if Sivo is not cleared.
George Jennings, Ethan Parry and young John Fonua could all capably fill the spot on the left wing but none play the blockbusting role that Sivo does.
Parramatta insiders have understandably downplayed any concern the club has about Sivo's mental and physical state, pointing out that he went into last season with a limited preparation after having shoulder surgery.
But there is just no denying what we all saw last weekend was a footballer who performed like he just wasn't interested.
It might be the rev up Sivo needs to get his head back in the game, because he still has a week to get it right.