Dyldam Parramatta Eels back rower David Gower believes that new Eels recruit Anthony Watmough has instilled a competitive and mental toughness to the Blue and Gold this preseason required to progress further in the competition in 2015.
“Competiveness, ruthlessness and mental toughness. That is probably what we needed in what we lacked last year and that’s what cost us at the end of last season so he has brought that real hard-edged mentality,” Gower said of Watmough.
Gower described the near 300-game veteran as a ‘pitbull that can go all day’ and the positive influence Watmough has had on the squad during the pre-season is evident.
“He has brought that here for the young guys and it’s really paying off because you can see the change in a lot of guys mental toughness and mental strength as the pre-season wears on,” said Gower.
“Last year left a sour taste in a lot of our mouths and a lot of the boys really wanted to come back and rip in all summer and try and right the way we finished last year” he added.
Gower also had glowing praise for the newly appointed Auckland Nines captain Chris Sandow, whom has been working extremely hard to motivate the boys during the pre-season and has begun cementing his spot as one of the leaders of the team.
“I think Chrissy came back day one in great shape,” Gower said.
“He has looked after himself in the time off and maybe in the past he didn’t look after himself as much. You can just see there is a spring in his step.”
“He has always had the talk, but on the training pitch he is leading by his actions as well. The talk always has to be there being a half back since he steers our team around and you can see in our fitness drills that he is chirpy and always making sure the boys are up beat and staying on top of it so he is definitely developing into a leader.”
While the Eels NRL season does not kick off until 6 March, where they will host the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at home, Gower knows that the Blue and Gold are keen on being competitive in the up coming Auckland Nines and will look to be there come the end of the two-day extravaganza.
“The boys learned a few lessons last year on the way it is played, the speed of the game and the best way to go about it so I think we will knuckle down this week, get a bit more training in and most importantly, go out there, have fun and start to get our timing back”
“We aim to be competitive in anything we do on the field this year so as soon as we put that jersey on, we want to be competitive, whether it is the Nines, a trial game or Round One.”
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t mean a great deal come September so our goal is obviously to play good footy in the NRL season and improve but if we go well it will definitely give us some confidence moving into the trials and the early rounds.”