The Dyldam Parramatta Eels are excited to announce our squad for the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines, to be played this weekend in New Zealand.
In alphabetical order:
Willie Tonga (c)
Parramatta Head Coach Brad Arthur says he’s bringing to Auckland a versatile team, and is looking forward to seeing what they can come up with on the field.
“You need a bit of size and strength in your forwards to try and get your backs [working] off that, and Peni was a great performer in our trial and so was Manu which was quite a surprise,” Arthur said.
“So they have great leg speed and offer a bit of power in their carry.”
The Nines will be the first chance for Eels fans to see new recruits Nathan Peats, Corey Norman and Bureta Faraimo in action in Blue and Gold, as well as youngsters Pauli Pauli and John Folau.
“I’d like to give them the experience, they’re big bodies as well, so anytime they can get themselves one on one they’re going to be hard to handle,” Brad said.
“They’ve got a good offload, so we’ll see how we go.”
As for his expectations on the side, Brad says he’s encouraging all his players to get their hands on the football as much as possible.
“I want them to have a bit of fun, but obviously they’re going to have to work hard,” he said.
“They’re nine minute halves, and they might only be out there for a few minutes, but there’s no time at all to knock off and have a rest, so they have to work hard and push themselves and when we can, we’ll get them off.”
It will also be Willie Tonga’s first opportunity to captain the Blue and Gold, and Brad says he is a worthy leader.
“Willie has got plenty of experience, and he’s trained really hard in pre-season, and he’s lot some weight so he’s a little bit lighter and is looking very fast and sharp, and he’s looking forward to the opportunity.