Even Corey Norman had reservations about Parramatta's finals chances when he signed with the club this season.
Norman joined Will Hopoate and Nathan Peats as the club's big-name signings this year, making the move from the Broncos in a bid to play regular time in the halves.
While Norman may have made just one finals appearance during his four-year stint at the Broncos, he didn't expect to add to that tally this season, with the Eels coming off successive last-placed finishes.
"I didn't really think about it," Norman said. "I definitely thought we would go better than what they did the last couple of years, [but] probably not finals. But we're here now which is good.
"They recruited well with Peatsy and Will Hopoate and (coach) Brad [Arthur] coming in. Big raps have to go to Brad for turning this club around."
Norman wasn't alone in his thoughts surrounding the Eels' finals chances. With Parramatta sitting in eighth with two games in the regular season to play, they are set to end their five-year finals drought.
Prop Darcy Lussick didn't predict the side would be in finals contention.
"If I have to be honest ... from the start of the year I didn't think we'd be in this position," Lussick said. "As the year went on I would've been disappointed if we weren't in this position because we've played some really attractive football this year. As you can see from the game on the weekend, we played really well against the team leading the comp.
"The belief has been there all year since the early rounds. No one is getting ahead of themselves. There's a belief that we're a good team and we're capable."
The Eels kept their final hopes alive with a shock come-from-behind victory against the first-placed Sea Eagles on Friday night. Down 12-0 at half-time, Norman said Arthur's message was simple.
"We had to fix a few little things up in our plays, execute them a bit better," Norman said. "I thought when we came out in the second half we did that and got on top. We just had to win that game to keep our season alive. It was a massive game for us and we came away with the win.
"If we didn't win that game our season was pretty much over. We had to win that game. We came out and we had belief we could, and we did."
The Eels travel to Newcastle on Sunday with a host of players set to return. Winger Ken Sio (shoulder) and forwards Kelepi Tanginoa (knee) and Mitch Allgood (knee) could be called upon while back-rower Manu Ma'u is at least another week away from a fractured forearm.
Norman said toppling Manly had given the side hope that they can cause damage during the finals series.
"We have always had that belief and I think we really cemented it on the weekend," he said. "You get massive confidence. They're on top of the ladder. For us, beating them is massive."