Parramatta's title hopes have taken another hit with five-eighth Dylan Brown to undergo ankle surgery that could rule him out for the rest of the NRL season.
The 20-year-old was taken from the field in the second half of the Eels' 38-0 flogging by South Sydney on Thursday night, with scans confirming a syndesmosis injury.
The club did not put a timeframe on Brown's return, but it's understood a six-week recovery is realistic and would allow him to return during the finals.
Brown suffered the injury in the first half but bravely played on until medical staff decided to pull him in the second, knowing little else could be achieved before next week's clash with the Warriors.
It adds another level of pain for the Eels after their shocking loss to the Bunnies.
Coach Brad Arthur conceded he couldn't blame anyone wanting to question their premiership credentials after their flimsiest defensive performance of the NRL season.
They missed a whopping 53 tackles in their heaviest defeat at Bankwest Stadium, the most any side has missed in a match in 2020.
Blake Ferguson and Waqa Blake missed nine between them on the right as the Rabbitohs had a field day out wide, while Nathan Brown and Ray Sone had six misses each in the middle.
Top of the ladder seven weeks ago, Parramatta now find themselves in a scrap to stay in the top four in the final month of the regular season.
When asked if he thought critics would be silly to write off the Eels based on their current form, Arthur conceded it would be understandable.
"That's up to the individual who wants to have that opinion, that's fine," Arthur said post-game.
"We deserve it... things change pretty quickly in a week but we're the only ones that can do something about it."
Frustrating Arthur most will be that this was the kind of performance he thought was gone from the Eels.
Known for their big margins in games last season with seven losses of 12 points or more, their 2020 defeats before Thursday night had been by 14, four and two points.
"We were a chance of winning those games," Arthur said.
"But we were never a chance of winning that game tonight after 20 minutes.
"The boys said it was pretty quiet out there tonight which was not good."