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The Parramatta Eels are coming off a Round Three defeat to the Gold Coast Titans, and going down to his former side was a tough one for Blue & Gold winger Josh Hoffman.

The Eels were without halfback Corey Norman, who was ruled out through injury and replaced by experienced half Jeff Robson, but Norman has been named to return this week, and Hoffman is expecting Norman to bring leadership, direction and an x-factor to the side.

“Corey is looking good, he trained today and doing what he usually does. It is almost like he hasn’t missed out on any training. Hopefully we see him out there this weekend because he is a key to our team,” Hoffman said.

“It will be valued, him being out there with his leadership, his talk and direction on the field.”

“Everybody works off the back of him and he has a lot to offer.”

“Robbo has probably been the most experienced trainer the whole pre-season, and has been around for a while, so whilst he has an old head on his shoulders, he did a great job for us on the weekend,” Hoffman added.

“They are both different in their own rights and having Normy there this week will just add that little bit of X-factor.”

Coming off a defeat, Hoffman says the side will still be prepared to take on the Premiers, the Cronulla-Sharks this weekend, ensuring they stay in the arm wrestle to give themselves every opportunity.

“Obviously coming off the back of a tough loss will mean for a big one this weekend. We have been preparing as best we can, we know what we have to improve and come Saturday, we will be ready to go,” Hoffman said.

“It was a tough loss for us, but there are some positives we can take out of it,” he added.

“We didn’t go out of the game for the full 80 minutes, everybody was trying their best and think this weekend we will come up against a strong team, the Premiers.”

“It will be a tough ask and hopefully we can keep in the arm wrestle with them and give ourselves a good chance.”

The Sharks may have their own x-factor, in new recruit James Segeyaro who was named in an extended bench, but regardless if the hooker plays or not, Hoffman says the Eels will need to respect their entire line up.

“We will respect James Segeyaro, he is a great player, especially from dummy half. He is agile and like Robbo, has been around for a while,” Hoffman said.

“We just have to respect him if he plays but whoever comes out there on the day, we will need to respect.”

The Eels kick off against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 25 March for their first home game of the season. The clash is for the annual Johnny Mannah Cup and will kick off at 7pm.

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Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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