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With Round 1 of the 2014 Telstra Premiership kicking off in just six days, Dyldam Parramatta Eels second rower Ben Smith says the mood at the club couldn’t be more positive for the year ahead. 

Ben is expected to be named in Brad Arthur’s side to play the NZ Warriors this Sunday, March 9 - and is especially looking forward to seeing what Will Hopoate brings to the table for the club. 

“He’s a special talent; just the way he goes about his business. He’s only a young fellow and has been away from the game from a few years, but the way he goes about his business is A-grade,” he said. 

“And it’s rubbed off on not only the young boys, but the older boys as well; his excitement and enthusiasm for training has rubbed off on a lot of players in general.”

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Smith says all the players are feeling extra fresh after a tough pre-season of training - particularly with the mental side of the game. 

“This pre-season has been a bit different to the last few, I think from the way BA has structured it,” he said. 

“He’s been away for a year and seen the way other teams have their pre-seasons and the way they train, and he’s brought it on board and the boys feel fresh.”

“Not just physically, but mentally; I think we’re all happy and we’re ready to go.”

When it comes to Round 1 this Sunday, Smith says the Blue and Gold will be prepared for a tough encounter with an aggressive Warriors outfit, which has had a successful pre-season in trials. 

“The Warriors are always a physical team, so you’ve got to step up, and for us it’s all about stepping up what we do, and doing our thing,” he said. 

“They’ve had a very good trial period, and so have we in that regard, so first and foremost, we need to focus on how we can get out there on the field and focus on that.”

Click here to buy tickets to Round 1 against the NZ Warriors this Sunday, March  at Pirtek Stadium! 

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