Parramatta co-captain Tim Mannah - still sporting a grin after his team’s comprehensive opening round win over the Warriors - predicted the Eels would get a better gauge of how they're travelling when they play the NRL’s defending premiers this Saturday.
The Eels, last year’s wooden-spooners, take on the star-studded Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium but Mannah was adamant the spirit and attitude coursing through his club would, at the very least, guarantee a tough match.
However, the former NSW Origin prop conceded the new-look Parramatta team knew it had room for improvement.
“We’re working hard to ensure we’re at our best,” said Mannah on Wednesday night. “Our attitude was outstanding [against the Warriors] but it was the first time we’d really ever played together outside of maybe 20 minutes in a trial game.
“We just need a bit more time figuring one another out and we’ll keep building and improving [in the meantime].”
Mannah said there would definitely be no complacency from any of his players when they run out against the Roosters despite watching the team, who many experts predicted would be the first to win back-to-back premierships since Brisbane in 1992-93, get thumped 28-8 by South Sydney in the season opener last Thursday night.
“The Roosters ... it’s like waiting for the awakening of a giant when they have a loss like that,” he said. “We know they’ll come out hard but that’s a good challenge for us - to play at our very best when they’ll be wanting to perform at their best. We can’t wait to test ourselves, it’s all pretty exciting.”
He said a lot of the excitement in Parramatta was due to the infusion of youth and new players, including Manu Ma’u, Will Hopoate, Semi Radradra, and Vai Toutai, combining with the old guard to prove there was pride - and desire - in the club’s colours.
“You look around our side and you see it is a young one but it has heaps of enthusiasm and, as I said, so much room for improvement everywhere,” he said. “William Hopoate, he’s been out of the game for two years, he’s a great player but give him a few more runs to build up his combinations and anything could happen out there.”
“We realise it’s about our attitude and working hard in defence. That was there on the weekend and we just need to keep turning up with that attitude and the determination to work for each other and the points will come.
“No one likes to look back, but [after some tough times] it’s definitely a much better feeling to finish a match with a win. We’ve set ourselves a high benchmark early in the season and it’s up to everyone to keep improving.”