Dyldam Parramatta Eels centre Willie Tonga says despite the entertaining footy his side turned out in Sunday afternoon’s Round 3 match against the Sea Eagles, the emotions following the loss were among the lowest he’s felt in his career.
“To be honest, I’ve never felt the way I diid after a loss in my whole career [as I did] after that Manly game,” Tonga said.
“They were the grand finalists last year and we were the wooden spooners and we had the game there to be won.”
“Just to put in so much effort and knowing that we should’ve won that game, but we let it slip in the last 30 seconds, it was heartbreaking.”
“I know the boys are shattered but Brad’s been good about it: it’s something that we can dwell on for 24 hours afterwards but then we need to move on.”
The next challenge for the Blue and Gold is Saturday night’s “Battle of the West” against the Penrith Panthers in front of a home crowd at Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta.
“I didn’t realise the rivalry before I came back to Parramatta,” Tonga said.
“I know that every time we play there’s always banter between the fans and the players as well but that’s to be expected, and it’s a game I’m looking forward to.”
“I think we’re going to have to step up from last week again to be able to mix it with those boys and get the result we want.”
And with Brad Arthur naming his team on Tuesday afternoon, there’s a possibility Tonga will be running out alongside childhood friend, Chris Sandow.
“I’ve known Chrissy since he was 8 years old,” Tonga said.
“He was one of the reasons I came to Parramatta and to see him back up in first grade would be good for the whole team.”
“I know that he’s been working really hard on his game and playing well for Wentworthville.”
“He’s never one to be kicking stones or coming to training with a sour head on; he’s always upbeat which is good.”
“Whether he’s in the top grade or he’s not he’s always got that smile on his face, and he’s worked really hard this year.”
The Eels kick off against the Penrith Panthers at 5.30pm on Saturday, March 29.