New faces at the Nines

The Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur named his squad to compete in the 2015 Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines, and the 18-man Blue and Gold squad includes several new faces in Brad Takairangi, Reece Robinson along with talented youngsters John Folau, Kaysa Pritchard and Halauafu Lavaka.

Eels Members and fans may be familiar with Brad Takairangi and Reece Robinson who have featured in the NRL, however, many Blue and Gold fans will be setting their eyes upon Folau, Pritchard and Lavaka for the first time.

The 112kg, 20-year-old centre, Folau, has represented the U20s Queensland side along with featuring prominently in the Eels NYC side in 2014. In 2014, Folau was also selected in his first Representative International side, playing for Tonga against Papua New Guinea.

Eels back rower David Gower praised the young talents coming through the squad and was excited about seeing Folau in action at the Nines, “We have some big talented kids in our squad and John is big, athletic, strong and quick so I am expecting big things from big Johnny.”

“A strong power game and good footwork for a big man too,” He added.

Assistant Coach Steve Murphy echoed Gower’s praise, “John Folau has been with us in our system for a while and he is a real strong physical presence, so I am looking forward to seeing how he goes as I am the majority of the squad.”

Murphy was also excited about the opportunity fans would be provided over the weekend, able to witness the young Lavaka and Pritchard on a big stage.

Lavaka, who was previously selected in the Australian Schoolboys competition in 2012, topped the NYC try-scorer list in 2014 claiming 28 tries in his 26 appearances for Parramatta.

“We have a young player, Halauafu Lavaka and hopefully he can enjoy that format of the game.” said Murphy.

“Kaysa is a livewire who has plenty of energy and enthusiasm who will move quickly out of dummy half and as I said, he is a high energy player and we are excited about him.

Pritchard made his debut with the Eels in 2013, playing 6 matches in the NRL before re-signing with the Eels on a two year contract later that year. He was also instrumental in the Under 20s NSW Blues State of Origin, captaining the side to victory in 2014.

Click here to see the full squad listing.

Hear from Chris Sandow on his thoughts about being named Nines captain.