In-form five-eighth Dylan Brown has welcomed the challenge of becoming Parramatta's chief on-field general following the calf injury to halves partner Mitchell Moses.
Moses will miss at least three weeks of the Telstra Premiership after scans revealed a flare-up of scar tissue from a previous calf problem.
His absence will allow Brown to build on his "second pre-season" efforts in May when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the competition, where he guided the squad through their training runs when Moses sat out to nurse a similar niggle.
"I'm pretty keen, I'm pretty excited," Brown said on Tuesday.
"That [leading the side without Moses] was actually a bit of a challenge, I know it was only at training but we train how we play.
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"I sort of felt a responsibility there, the boys were responding to me which was good. I gained some trust throughout this year and that was actually quite helpful."
Brown, who turned 20 last week, will be in unfamiliar territory having never played without Moses since making his NRL debut last year.
While indicating Moses's kicking game would be sorely missed, Brown said his own communication skills were far more important in the playmaker's absence.
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"That's how we respond is how your voice is in terms of getting the ball off Reed [Mahoney] or driving the forwards around and encouraging them," he said.
"It's something I've had to work on, coming in and being the younger guy and the least experienced.
"It's just a confidence thing I feel and I'm slowly gaining it as we play more games."
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Former Dragons speedster Jai Field has been selected to replace Moses at halfback against the Cowboys on Friday.
Field arrived at Parramatta a week before the competition resumed in May on a development deal.
"I actually hate training against him. He's the hardest person to defend and he always tears us up at training," Brown said of Field.
"He's got experience too at first grade. I would be pretty excited to see Jai on the field," he added with a pun.
Brad Takairangi filled in at five-eighth during the second half against the Raiders and the veteran utility said Brown proved more than capable of stepping up as the team's key playmaker.
"That period after COVID, Dyl took the responsibility of the whole team and did really well," Takairangi said.
"He's definitely grown from the first year of experience so he is definitely ready to lead the boys this week."