Moeroa seeks payback for Manly 'bashing'
Parramatta Eels forward Tepai Moeroa says his team hasn't forgotten the rough treatment dished out last time they traveled to play Manly and is looking to up the aggression in the highly-anticipated Telstra Premiership opener for the two rival clubs.
One could argue the Eels exacted the perfect revenge on a dreary April night out at Brookvale in Round 7 last year when their 22-10 win heaped the early-season misery and pressure on a Manly side struggling under a run of outs – particularly at their home ground – but Moeroa wants more.
"They bashed us last year when we played at Brooky so hopefully this year we can bring some aggression and see how we go," the softly-spoken 21-year-old smiled when asked about preparations for this Sunday afternoon.
"There's always talk about forward packs trying to get on top of the other forward pack and it will be a good contest for us.
"We've got the arsenal to make a big statement and hopefully we can back it up.
"Especially after last year where they came out and absolutely bashed us in the middle, I think it's time to give them a bit of payback."
That new arsenal Moeroa refers to includes hard-running Kiwi prop Suaia Matagi and hyper-aggressive former Rabbitohs prop Nathan Brown. Sadly, their fellow new front-row recruit Siosaia Vave, who wore maroon and white in Round 7 last year but now gets around in blue and gold, will be sitting out as he recovers from off-season knee and shoulder issues.
Matagi has been something of a journeyman despite playing five internationals for Samoa and one for his native New Zealand; he commanded fewer than 30 minutes per game on average in a stacked Penrith pack last season and earned just seven NRL caps in an equally stacked Roosters pack the year before.
An electric pre-season has seen him earn a starting berth in Brad Arthur's team and the respect of his new teammates.
"As you saw from Nines, 'Tungs' is one of the best at carting the ball up so hopefully we get a lot of momentum off him and we roll up the field," Moeroa said.
Of his own role, Moeroa indicated a shift away from his previous duties where he looked to stake a claim for the No.13 jersey vacated by Anthony Watmough's retirement last year. Instead, he will start games wider on an edge in a position where he was utterly devastating in his under-20s days.
"I'll start on an edge and as one of the boys come off I'll move towards the middle," Moeroa said.
"Playing on an edge I'll get to have more of a running game than just defence… hopefully I can bring that [edge running game] back this year."
The junior shotput champion also reaffirmed his desire to one day press for Olympic honours – however the off-contract star also insisted his short and medium term future is at Parramatta.
"I'm looking to re-sign for another couple of years at Parra," he said.
"I've got another couple of years to achieve a few goals then we'll look at edging over to shotput."
Those goals likely include a NSW Blues State of Origin call-up but the under-20s Blues and Kangaroos star – who has rarely hidden his desire to represent his state at the senior level – wasn't making any outlandish calls this early in the season.
"I need to play consistent footy and if I play consistent enough hopefully that will take care of itself and I'll find a spot somewhere in the [NSW] team," he said.