Before Dyldam Parramatta Eels halfback Kieran Foran ran out onto the field for Round 7 of the NRL Telstra Premiership, he had to make a little detour.
After leaving the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles to join the Blue and Gold from 2016 onwards, habit sent Foran straight to his old parking space at Brookvale Oval.
“I forgot where the parking was,” Foran admitted.
“I was about to drive through and park where I used to park, and I had to check myself: you’re parking in the public school, you’ve got to actually walk to the game!”
“All the stuff before the game was a bit unfamiliar, but once we got out there I just focussed on the game.”
After a first half that saw them starved of decent field position, the Eels lifted their effort through the second half to come away with a 22-10 win, and Foran says the will to win pushed all old memories to the side for him and his opponents.
“I enjoyed playing the boys and it was a high quality match and that’s what you want,” Foran said.
“There wasn’t much talk from the boys [from the opposition], they were well and truly in the contest and we were just focussed on getting the win. I copped a bit [of heckling from the crowd] when I walked up at halftime, but overall they were good.”
“I guess that’s what you hope for. I hold no hard feelings for the club and I like to think the fans and the club would see it the same way. I like to think that I played my heart and soul out for this joint [Manly],” Foran said as he stood in the Brookvale tunnel after the game.
“I made that decision to start fresh, and felt like I needed to change, and I haven’t looked back since. It’s been what I needed and I’m glad I did it.”
Foran’s ‘reverse-seachange’ to Parramatta has seen him building a new halves combination with five-eighth Corey Norman, as the side looks to build a new sense of self-belief week by week.
“He’s playing sensational footy at the moment,” Foran said of his halves partner.
“I’ve always seen him as a player with a lot of x-factor. He’s always had loads and loads of skill,and I guess doing a pre-season with him I’ve seen a wide range of what he can do and what he can offer.”
“He’s a top quality player and he’s someone that I’d like to really build a combination with over these years and get the team around the park.”
Despite having two four-point efforts denied, Foran says the Eels’ eyes remain firmly on their own backyard and their own commitment as a team.
“We could have dropped our heads and sort of rolled over [earlier in the game],” Foran said.
“For most of the game we were on the back foot. Manly did a really good job at just out-enthusing us; they were able to make easy yards on us and get us down the field and march us on the back foot.”
“But the will to want to stay in the contest and sort of wait for the momentum to turn was there, and when it turned with 15-10 [minutes] to go we were able to pounce on those opportunities and get a bit of a break there.”
“There’s a real resilience amongst the club at the moment, everyone’s got a will to really want to turn up for one another and not let each other down on the weekend. At the moment it’s working for us, and we’re winning games on effort. Combinations and fluency, that will start to come as the season goes on.”
“The big thing when you look at clubs that go on to win competitions is that they win when they’re not supposed to win. They just find a way to win even when they’re [performing] at 50%, or when they’re ‘off’ and they’ve got no right to win, but they still come away with the 2 points.”
“We’re not taking too much notice of the ladder or where we’re sitting, we’re just trying to string back to back games as many wins as we can. If you keep turning up with effort each game, then you’re going to be in the contest most matches. The moment that drops off, then you’ve got an issue.”