Despite a devastating golden point loss, Brad Arthur is taking plenty of positives out of the Eels’ NRL season-opener.
In particular, the performances of new recruits J’maine Hopgood, Matt Doorey and Josh Hodgson earned recognition from the Eels coach in his post-match press conference.
“All those blokes that got their chance stepped up,” he said.
“(Hopgood) was really strong in 84 minutes. That’s tough in Round 1 for any middle, and he probably hasn’t done a lot of it. He’s probably done it at Cup level but it’s a different speed and intensity in NRL.
“I thought Matt Doorey tried really hard. He got a quick rest and had to come back out there as we had to move a few blokes around with a few concussions.
“That was (Hodgson’s) first proper hit-out for us, he got through 80 minutes and worked really hard.
“There’s some positives out of it.”
NRL Match Highlights: Eels v Storm
Hopgood was immense in his Eels debut, playing the entire game for a return of 172 run metres, 57 tackles and five offloads.
In his first full NRL match since September 2021, Hodgson was sharp at dummy half and made a fantastic try assist for Junior Paulo, as well as 42 tackles.
Paulo powers over the line!
Doorey was damaging outside of halfback Mitchell Moses, and recorded 85 run metres, 20 tackles and two tackle breaks.
Brad Arthur felt the Eels’ overall performance was strong, but fell short of the win through a lack of execution.
“It felt like we did enough and put ourselves in a position to win but we just didn’t execute,” he said.
“We always knew they were going to be tough and we always knew it was going to be a tight contest, especially at the start of the year. We completed high, played good field position and I thought we tackled well.
“The contest was tough and physical, both teams went at it so I’m really happy with our effort.
“We were in a position to win it and we just needed to ice a couple of moments in the game.”
The Eels return to CommBank Stadium in Round 2 to face the Sharks on Friday at 6pm. Secure your seat in PARRAdise now!