Parramatta Eels centre Brad Takairangi has praised Blue & Gold halfback Corey Norman for his performance in the Eels victory over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Round One.
With Norman not featuring on the football field since Round 18, Takairangi said the playmaker had returned to the field very positively however will only continue to improve over time.
“Corey was awesome. He obviously missed being out there with the boys, I don’t think he has missed that much footy for a long period of time,” Takairangi said.
“He is our leader out on the field, our main general, and he did really well out there on the weekend. “
“He is a leader on the field and calls most of the shots out there. He was blowing a bit at the start, but he will only get better for us through the year and hopefully he can do another good job this week against the Dragons,” Takairangi added.
“Missing those games last year has made him hungrier. He was filthy not being able to help the boys and contribute as much as he wanted to last year.”
Norman was a stand out in the Round One performance with a try, 138run metres, a 40/20 and playing his hand in forcing several repeat sets, however Takairangi also had plenty of praise for some of the new recruits, in particular prop Suaia Matagi.
The forward finished with 151m, 19 tackles and one offload in his 47 minutes on the field.
“Matagi; the energy and the hit ups that he has brought to our team, it’s a bit of that punch that we semi lacked last year,” Takairangi said.
“Losing Junior Paulo, someone like Suaia brings so much aggression and its awesome to play off the back of.”
Matagi’s effort in Round One was optimized by several hard straight running hit ups that ended with collisions against Martin Taupau.
“The collision between him and Martin Taupau was big!” Takairangi said.
“He doesn’t feel it, he just kept running. No matter who was in front of him, he just kept running 100% and that’s him for you.”
The Eels will take on the St. George Illawarra Dragons at WIN Stadium on Sunday 12 March, kick off at 6:30pm, and Takairangi says this weekend will all be about backing up their performance to come away with the win.
“It was a good start from the boys and we got a lot of combinations there, and a few new boys coming into the squad which I thought they added really nicely to what we had already,” Takairangi said.
“But it doesn’t mean anything if we cant back it up this week against the Dragons.”
“BA has been pretty big on consistency over the pre-season and taking that into the games now” he added.