Dyldam Parramatta Eels hooker Nathan Peats is set to return to action this week against the Penrith Panthers in the Blue and Gold’s final pre-season trial at Pepper Stadium this weekend (Saturday 20 Febrary)
Peats sustained a fracture to the C6 vertebra during the Eels' Round 23 clash with the Sydney Roosters in 2015, and after following scans and consultations with a number of specialists, underwent surgery in August 2015.
“I am fully fit and all good,” Peats said at the Eels Indigenoush Jersey Launch yesterday, eager to make his return to the action this weekend.
“It was disappointing to get ruled out last week, we had a plan to play this week in the last trial and we are sticking to the plan. I am fully fit and all good and looking forward to this week against the Panthers.”
Peats will play in a new look Blue and Gold spine for the first team in the upcoming trial, with new recruits Kieran Foran and Michael Gordon set to take the field alongside Eels five-eighth Corey Norman.
“It’s new spine, obviously ‘Normy’ and I have been together for a couple of years now, but to have Kieran Foran and Michael Gordon at fullback, I am looking forward to good year,” Peats said.
“It might take a while, because we actually haven’t all played a game together, but it is our last team trial this week and hopefully it starts to gel but at training so far, it has been really good.”
“Having ‘Foz’ here has helped out Normy a lot. He doesn’t have to be the organiser anymore, he can take a back footstep, be the five-eighth and just float around whilst Foz can do his organising. I think everyone is going to play into each other’s hands really well.” Peats added.
Whilst the Eels have added a wealth of experience to their roster with new recruits Beau Scott, Michael Jennings, Foran and Gordon, Peats knows the Blue and Gold have plenty of pressure to perform, starting the 2016 season with plenty of expectations.
“We have a couple of new players that are going to do really well for us and we have recruited quite well,” Peats said.
“Just because we have a good side on paper, doesn’t mean it is going to happen on the field. We have to work hard, and with the past that we have had, we have to work even harder than other teams.”
“We have a lot of senior blokes and a lot of younger blokes, but everyone is mixing together. This is my third season here and a few of us have stuck through what we have been through the last few years, but like BA said, a lot of the blokes that debuted two years ago are playing their 50th-60th game this year," Peats added.
“They aren’t the young fellas any more, they are coming through and we are expecting a lot from those kind of players and also from our senior players.”