Pritchard's starring performance against Wests Tigers
Fresh off arguably the best game of his injury-interrupted career last week against Manly, Anzac Medallist Kaysa Pritchard bettered that as his side scored an impressive 24-22 win over Wests Tigers on Sunday.
Restricted to 44 games over six seasons through a variety of knee, shoulder, pec and other injuries, Pritchard's high-octane 80 minutes against the Tigers wasn't perfect - he was devastated to get palmed off by Esan Marsters for the game's opening try - but it was hugely energetic, committed and tough.
In fact, energetic, tough and committed, but imperfect, is exactly how the Eels themselves played off the back of the 86-kilogram rake's example.
He put big shots on bigger men to force errors, he threw himself into his tackles and his runs and he drew praise from his coach – before then speaking passionately about his own desperation to repay the faith of Brad Arthur.
"I just put the body on the line week in week out for the boys, for BA [Arthur] especially," Pritchard said.
"It's been a tough start to the year. The first six rounds didn't go too well. He [Arthur] has copped a lot of stick so it was good to come out and get the two points on the back of last week for the team and for BA.
"I'm just trying to get through the 80. I feel a lot fitter this year than last year and the few years before."
Arthur praised the tough win but stressed the performance was still short of what he expected moving forward.
"We made a habit of winning those sort of games last year, the ones where we're not perfect and a touch scrappy, but it was tough and resilient," Arthur said.
"[There were a] couple of soft tries which we're not real happy about. [Tigers lock Matt Eisenhuth going] untouched through the middle of the field's not good enough. We're getting better but we're still a way off."
Asked about the diminutive No.9s game, Arthur offered a rare smile.
"He was good, Kays," Arthur said.
"He probably worries about his game too much, straight in the sheds and apologising about a couple of things he got wrong. Which is a good thing for us, he wants to contribute 100 percent of the time but he was good.
"I thought he gained some confidence off the back of last week which was probably his best performance for us last week. A couple of things there were pretty erratic at times but that's Kaysa."
Arthur said the club may need to work with Pritchard a little on learning some self-preservation because they can't afford to lose him mid-game through injury. In saying that, the Eels don't want him to lose any of his aggression.
"We can't afford to have him taking himself out and we also need him to get through some consistent footy for us," Arthur said.
"He's just got to channel it the right way. He has got a lot better with it."
Skipper Tim Mannah said it was a pleasure defending next to Pritchard in the middle.
"He's a tough kid ... Being next to him he kind of inspires you a bit because if he's coming out with that energy and willing to put his body on the line it makes everyone around him want to do the same," Mannah said.