Hayne ready to rock, and so are Eels’ big boys
BRAD Arthur has declared Jarryd Hayne is ready to rock in his first game back for Parramatta in Saturday's trial against Newcastle.
And so are the Eels big boys.
When the Eels offered Hayne a contract to return in 2018, Peter Sterling led the calls questioning why the money wasn't spent on a quality front-rower.
Well, here's Arthur's defence of his underrated pack.
The Eels' coach has named 12 forwards in his squad for the sold-out trial in Maitland, the club's first and only hit out before the season kicks off.
Come round one against Penrith, only nine on this list will make the cut.
Such is the depth and quality at Arthur's disposal, he has named Tepai Moeroa on the bench - the player Sterlo hailed as the Eels' "best young forward in a decade" back in 2015.
Tim Mannah and Daniel Alvaro are the starting front-rowers with Nathan Brown at lock, while Manu Ma'u and Brad Takairangi are the back-rowers.
With Takairangi moving into the forwards to make way for Hayne in the centres, Moeroa is part of a powerful bench that also includes Beau Scott, Kane Evans, Suaia Matagi, Kenny Edwards, Peni Terepo and David Gower.
And that doesn't include Siosaia Vave, who is injured but will be ready for round one.
Asked if he was happy with his forward stocks, Arthur responded: "Yep.
"Happy. We still have a couple of young blokes knocking on the door, too.
"They will be handy for us at some stage."
Arthur refused to get caught up in the fact critics just don't seem to rate his pack.
"I don't care," he said.
Arthur said the challenge this weekend would be for all the forwards to fight their way into the starting pack for the opening round against the Panthers.
"It is going to be hard to nail down," Arthur said.
"It is tough but it is what we have tried to work at as a club.
"To put together a squad where there is plenty of healthy competition for spots."
In fairness to Sterling, he wasn't the only one questioning if Hayne was the right fit for the Eels after their fourth-placed finish to 2017.
With so much anticipation now surrounding Hayne's first game for the club since 2014, Arthur said the main thing he wanted to see from the now 30-year-old was "effort areas".
"He is training very well," Arthur said.
He said Hayne would start at right centre but also play on the left, and have time at five-eighth and fullback.
Arthur admits Hayne will start the season at centre, it just depends on which side of the field with Michael Jennings capable of also playing both edges.