Dyldam Parramatta Eels fullback Jarryd Hayne has predicted a big challenge for the Blue and Gold against the Sea Eagles on Sunday, but he’s not expecting any fireworks between the Manly-Warringah side and their former centre, Will Hopoate.
“I’m sure he’ll get a warm reception on Sunday,” Hayne said.
“To go on a mission and to sacrifice the game he loves for the god he loves is huge, and I think, as a league fan, everyone loves Hoppa.”
The Sunday afternoon Round 3 clash isn’t just the first encounter between new recruit Hopoate and his former club, it’s also the second time in two weeks that the Eels play a 2013 Grand Final team.
Last week’s disappointing loss to the premiers, the Sydney Roosters, didn’t sit well with the Parramatta squad.
“We’re very disappointed about last week,” Hayne said.
“But it’s a new week and we’re focussed on working hard this week. [Last week] for the first 40 minutes we hung in there against the Roosters playing some okay football, and the second half we just let it slip.”
“We’ve got to grind out games and stay in the momentum of things as well. It’s definitely a lesson we’ve learnt.”
The co-captain also points to the absence of new recruit Nathan Peats as proof of the impact the young hooker can have on the Eels team.
“I guess we didn’t realise how much we lost with him gone: his direction and what he does for us around the ruck,” Hayne said.
“Last week, we tried a formula to beef up our defence and that obviously didn’t work, so having Peatsy back definitely gives that added spark and his enthusiasm and ability should help us.”
Speaking at Parramatta to help welcome the Sydney Carnival and the Tooheys New Golden Slipper trophy to Sydney’s West, Hayne described Western Sydney as a perfect destination for big sporting events.
“It’s obviously a huge buzz around Western Sydney,” Hayne said.
“I don’t know too much about racing but I definitely know the Golden Slipper and I actually do love horses.
“I had a horse when I was young, and hearing the sound they make coming through the home stretch definitely gives me goosebumps.”
The Dyldam Parramatta Eels play the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at 3pm on Sunday, March 23 at Brookvale Oval.
The Sydney Carnival begins this Saturday, March 22, at Rosehill Gardens with Ladies Day - and Eels Members get in free! Click to find out more.