Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur spoke to Big Sports Breakfast Weekend yesterday about how pleased he was about the quality of football played in the trial game on Friday night between the Wentworthville Magpies and the Wests Tigers.
The clash saw Wenty defeat the Tigers 26-4 in the Magpies' first NSW Cup trial of the year.
“It was mainly to get them to make a few strong carries and get some precentages under their belt but I thought it was a pretty high standard of a trial game," Arthur said.
"Both teams in the first half completed at about 85 – 90% which is quite uncommon for trials this time of year.
While nothing compares to starting the season, Arthur stressed the importance of pre-season games in getting the team match fit and ready to compete again.
“The results of the trials don’t really mean anything and I don’t think you can get a real good gauge going into the season but each coach has got their own idea of what each player needs to get some miles in their legs without doing too much,” he said.
“We’ve got two or three trials and different players will play in different games for different reasons."
“I think we’re at a stage as a club, like every other club, where the boys just want to get out on the field and play.”
Experienced back-rower Anthony Watmough joined the Blue and Gold this pre-season and Arthur said his influence on the rest of the squad was obvious.
“He’s trained really well for us and you know its the little bits of pieces, where you don’t expect it, where he’s really handy for us at training,” Arthur said.
“Just with his talking and positive nature when the boys are looking a little bit tired. He can just manage to find another gear in himself with his action and bringing the best out of them when we’re under a bit of fatigue,” he added.
And as Danny Wicks returned to the field last Friday, Arthur sees potential for the forward to have a strong season.
“I was very pleased for him the other night. He had some really strong carries and some of his defence was very good,” he said.
“I think at one stage down a set of six he made three or four tackles in a row and you might not think that’s a lot, but for a bloke that’s been out of the game that long, 15 minutes into his first hit out and to make three or four tackles from marker was a good effort."
Looking ahead, Arthur is excited with the prospect of Will Hopoate moving to the fullback position after his first full pre-season with the team.
“(Will’s) got stronger, got fitter more powerful throughout this pre season and he’ll be better again next pre season. But you know he’s a lot closer to where he was before he left the game and he’s looking forward to the opportunity to play at fullback,” Arthur said.
“His strength was obviously his thinking ability. We’d like to think that we’ve got a reasonably strong back row, which will hopefully create some opportunities for our halves and then for Will to finish them off. But his talk in defence is going to be a plus for us too.”
The Eels will play their first NRL trial game in Alice Springs on Friday night against the Wests Tigers for the Royal Flying Doctors' Service Cup.