Parramatta halfback Mitch Moses showed positive signs that he could be the man to guide young playmaker Dylan Brown into first grade after a polished performance in his team's trial against the Raiders on Friday night.
Moses and prop Junior Paulo were the two best players on the park as the Blue & Gold raced out to a 20-0 lead against a Raiders squad comprised largely of depth players.
Coach Brad Arthur pulled his top squad from the field through the second half with the Jersey Flegg and Wentworthville players eventually getting run down in the final minute but the early signs were good for the Moses-Brown partnership.
At 24 and with five seasons of the Telstra Premiership behind him, Moses is now officially seasoned in NRL terms but is now heading into his first season where he will be the experienced half alongside a junior one – a role he knows a bit about from his past season and a half alongside Corey Norman.
"I thought [Brown] was really good," Moses said.
"He took the line on and did everything we asked. He had a good couple of kicks and made his tackles. That's all we asked from him and I thought it was a really good first trial for him.
"Everyone's feeling comfortable with him, it's good to have him take control. We've worked up a nice combination there in the pre-season but whatever Brad goes with in round one, whoever goes in there I'm sure will do a good job."
Moses was happy to embrace the role of senior half but said it wouldn't change his approach to his own game too much.
"It definitely feels a lot different," he said.
"Looking too much to it like that it will affect my game. I'm definitely feeling comfortable with where we're at, at the moment.
Watch: Parramatta Eels v Canberra Raiders
"I'm used to being that young kid still coming through, I had Normy there last year so I was still the young half. It's kind of just helping him out and taking a bit of pressure off Dyl there. There's still a lot we can work on.
"I think it's a lot on me as well to take pressure off him, letting him do what he did. I was kind of taking control of what we were doing, Dyl had the chance to take on the line like he did, he created a fair few opportunities for himself and almost got over the line two or three times. That's what we want him to do."
A fit-looking Moses confirmed he had added "a few kilos" to his frame over the pre-season.
"I feel comfortable. Hopefully we can keep training well. We've got another trial against Penrith, that will be a big test," he said.
Moses produced two stunning try assists midway through the first half playing instinctive eyes-up football and helped created the first try of the night with a nice long ball. He and Brown kicked well too, though it must be said the pair had a big leg up due to the dominance of a Paulo-inspired pack.
The two halves were each happy to swing both sides of the ruck and link out wide rather than be stuck in a structure where one plays left and one plays right. It's a style that has been a hallmark of the Eels under Arthur, promising plenty in the early days of the Kieran Foran-Corey Norman partnership before the former's tenure at the club was ended prematurely.
It also worked a charm in the team's top-four finish in 2017.
"We're confident if he [Brown] takes the line on we can play that eyes-up footy," Moses added.
"We're feeling comfortable with the way we're playing and the style of footy we're going to play going into the season. It was a good first hit-out."
Getting 55 uninterrupted minutes alongside likely round-one hooker Reed Mahoney and fullback Clint Gutherson was also welcome.
"Having Reed there, I think he did a good job in the middle and Gutho, I think Gutho is back – he looked a lot better than how he was last year, he looked a lot freer," Moses said.
"He was obviously coming off his knee reco, everyone knows it's always tough coming off that knee reco the first year. He did look good so hopefully he can carry that into the season. To have him firing for us is going to be big this year."