Not a bad Reed in defence: Mahoney tops tackling table

Reed Mahoney is 884 tackles into the Telstra Premiership season but he is fast learning he's a prime target for the opposition and wouldn't have it any other way.

The tackling machine is leading the competition for his defensive efforts ahead of Dragons rake Cameron McInnes, who he'll line up against in Sunday afternoon's clash in Kogarah.

But Mahoney, into his second season of senior rugby league, has realised he's also the target of other influences on the field this season with several trainers directing traffic his way.

"I've felt like this year I get spotted a little bit by other team's trainers and they're not shy about it," Mahoney told NRL.com.

"A lot of teams have got my head on a dime but it doesn't bother me at all. I thrive on that when the water runner is telling players to run at me and I get stuck into them usually as well.

"It was against Manly recently I could hear their trainer saying run at Reed and I gave him a bit of lip back. They're all as bad as each other."

The Eels are monitoring Mahoney's workload on the road to the finals with coach Brad Arthur noticeably giving the 21-year-old a short break in recent weeks despite demoting utility Jaeman Salmon to the Canterbury Cup.

Mahoney indicated the rotating system is likely to continue for a few more weeks as he continues to shoulder the load of his defensive work rate. He expects to resume playing 80 minutes before the finals.

"It's been pretty tough for me and I've had days where I don't want to train but I know the coaching staff have been good with me too if I speak up," Mahoney said.

"I tell them how I feel and they look after me. You don't want to seem soft but it's important to tell someone if you're still sore or have a niggle.

"Rugby league is portrayed as a tough sport and it is with grown men so when you tell your coach you're still sore I think it's the only genuine conversation you can have.

"If you can tell him that then you can tell him anything. He's done well with managing me. I don't like to use that line all the time or as much as I'd like but some days are better than others."