Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur has welcomed back centre Willie Tonga to Eels training ahead of Sunday afternoon’s clash with the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium.
After spending the week in Queensland with the Maroons Origin squad, Tonga will take his place at centre for the Round 14 match, and Arthur said his experience will be key for his young teammates in the Blue and Gold back line.
“He’s got great leadership qualities,” Arthur said.
“He’s playing a tough style of football for us at the moment and it’s really good for our young fellas to follow his way.”
Two of the young players called up for Sunday’s game are Vai Toutai and Ryan Morgan, and Arthur said their commitment so far this year puts them in a good position to perform at an NRL level.
“They’ve trained well all year,” Arthur said.
“It’s just that we’ve been fortunate enough to have everyone else doing their role really well and limited injuries which has meant limited opportunities for those boys. I’m sure they’ll fit in and do a great job for us tomorrow.”
Hooker Isaac De Gois is also set to make his debut in for the Eels on Sunday afternoon, becoming the 763rd player to wear the Blue and Gold in first-grade.
“I think he’s looking forward to the role of knowing that he’s going have to get through a full 40 minutes of the first half and his minutes are going to be increased,” Arthur said.
“If he makes his tackles and gives good service and has a couple of runs I’ll be happy.”