The Parramatta Eels are feeling refreshed ahead of the NRL finals series starting this weekend after giving younger squad members a taste of first-team action in Round 25.
Preparing for its fourth finals series in five seasons, Parramatta heads to Browne Park in Rockhampton in an elimination final matchup against the Newcastle Knights on Sunday afternoon.
They do so having rested many first-choice stars for the last round of the regular season, their lineup for the final including ten players who didn’t feature last week.
Parramatta halfback Mitchell Moses says the choice to rest almost half their lineup – which included him – was made by head coach Brad Arthur weeks in advance, a choice he respected and has made him excited to take the field again.
“That was Brad’s plan so [I] wasn’t going to tell him anything else. He pretty much had it set y’know, two weeks before [the last round] so there was no change, win, lose, or whatever, we were always gonna do it,” Moses told media on Tuesday.
“So the boys are pretty fit and ready to go and pretty pumped and ready to get out there and give it a shot.”
The 26-year-old believes that the chance for some younger squad members and development players part of the Parramatta roster and included in the team for Round 25 will pay dividends going forward.
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Despite what would turn into a 6-40 loss against the second-placed Penrith, Parramatta was only down 6-12 at halftime. Moses says those watching on understood the positive effects the decision would hold in terms of getting a glimpse of the team’s future.
“The boys were pumped on the sideline when we were watching them and just seeing how hard they were working for each other,” Moses said.
“Most of those boys haven’t played a game pretty much all year, before COVID they had a couple of New South Wales Cup games but that was it.
“Most of them hadn’t played footy in a couple of months so for them to go out and put that performance in early on in the first half [was good].
“Then we were running low on some players. We had two 18-year-old wingers that, one of them makes his debut and one of them plays his second game come out onto the field and that’s all we had left on the bench.
“So to see the effort the boys put in, and to have two left on the bench and see the effort the boys were still putting in, was some[thing] good.”
Having only matched up once against the Knights this season – a 40-4 win in Round 13 -, Moses feels like this weekend’s game will be vastly different to last time.
“They’re (the Knights) are a really good side, they’ve still got some really quality players,” Moses said.
“I think they get (Daniel) Saifiti back this week which is a massive in for them and he’s someone that we’re gonna have to watch. He really gets their sets on a roll and starts their sets and allows them to play footy I guess and really frees up Pearcey (Mitchell Pearce) and (Kalyn) Pongha.
“So they’re no easy side, they’re a really good side and we’re definitely gonna have to be on our toes this week and put in a good performance.”
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