This week, Dyldam Parramatta Eels second-rower Tepai Moeroa returns to the Eels First Grade side, called into the starting line up to take on the NZ Warriors for their Round 10 clash at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday 16 May.
Moeroa made a strong start to his 2015 campaign, featuring strongly in the 2015 Auckland Nines however an injury in Round One resulted in the 19 year old spending time on the sideline before returning to action through the NSW Cup for the Wentworthville Magpies.
The injury is part of the reason Moeroa has not been able to cement his spot in the First Grade side, along with his self-assessed form of not being where he would like.
“I had an injury Round One and I haven’t been playing to the best that I can and bringing my best to the team,” Moeroa said.
“It will be good to get out there this week to show the boys that I deserve to be in the team.”
“It was a shoulder problem, but I am 100% now and ready to take on the Warriors.” Moeroa added.
After suffering a shoulder injury, Moeroa suffered a leg infection which extended his time on the sideline.
“I picked up an infection in New Zealand and I came back and it got worse so I ended up in hospital for the week but it is all clear now”
The time in the NSW Cup has meant Moeroa has been able to work on his game and improve certain aspects.
“My attacking, defence needed improvement and I have been flat in energy. I haven’t been bringing my full potential to the team,” Moeroa said.
“In NSW Cup, I learnt to do the little things right; pushing up in support, tying in your outside supporters. Just the little things. Those 1 percenters.” He added.
“We have lacked energy in defence. We front up for one or two tackles but then we go missing. We have to love defend and do it together.”
Assistant Coach Pete Gentle also commended Moeroa on his hard work and getting himself prepared for his return to First Grade.
“Tepai is starting to get his game time up after getting some injuries early in the year but being a young player we need to manage him well, Gentle said.
“We don’t want to burn him out, it’s only Round 10 now so he is good to go again with some runs under his belt and he is showing all the signs he is back to where he was.”
And with plenty of early accolades and praise for Moeroa, how does the young 19 year old deal with the pressure and expectation?
“The future is never set in stone, so you can’t plan for the future,” Moeroa said.
“You just have to take it one week at a time.”
“My motivation is just to prove my position that I deserve to be there and that I am a First Grade player.”