What crisis? ... Eels pivot Corey Norman, who threw a sublime 30 metre cutout last Sunday, backs the club's depth with eight players injured on the sideline. Credit: Ian Knight. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Eels five-eighth Corey Norman believes the club has enough depth to cover a worrying injury toll that has eight first-graders sidelined this week.
Tuesday's confirmation that powerful second-rower Manu Ma'u will miss 10 weeks with a forearm fracture adds to a crowded casualty ward that already includes Ken Sio (shoulder – indefinite), Lee Mossop (shoulder – indefinite), Will Hopoate (shoulder – two weeks), Justin Hunt (back – four weeks), Nathan Peats (knee – season), Kaysa Pritchard (shoulder – indefinite) and Jacob Loko (knee – indefinite).
The lengthy injured list looked to have caught up with Parramatta last Sunday when they were walloped 46-20 in Melbourne. But Norman denied the club was in an injury crisis.
"Nah, I don't reckon [we are]. The boys that come in – Vai [Toutai] came in and did a good job; and we've got Ryan Morgan who's doing a great job," Norman said.
"Whoever comes in, we've got full faith that they can do a good job. I wouldn't call it a crisis... I'm sure we'll find a way to step up. We need to."
Norman's faith isn't unfounded. Many of the players Eels coach Brad Arthur has called up have been in good form for feeder side Wentworthville Magpies, who are equal first in the NSW Cup, having won seven of their past eight games.
After a brutally honest video session of the Storm game on Tuesday morning, Norman said the team was made well aware of not wasting a season that had started so positively.
"We're halfway through it and, as a team, we need to step up if we really want to take this year seriously. We'll just keep working and keep doing what we gotta do. And I think we can do that," he said.
The former Broncos five-eighth also said halves partner Chris Sandow will have learnt from his ill-discipline towards referees after being sent to the sin-bin at a crucial point in their loss to Melbourne.
"I'm sure he said it out of frustration. It got heated there," Norman said. "He said what he said. It's over and done with now. We're just going to move on. I'm sure he'll do a good job of keeping his mouth shut this week."
Centre Ryan Morgan said it was a reminder for players to harness their frustration when things aren't going their way.
"It doesn't matter what grade you're playing in, even if you're playing in under-11s, it's always the same thing. You've got to respect the refs," he said.
"What he calls is how he sees it. He runs the game. So it doesn't matter what level you're playing at, you've got to respect the ref.
"It's definitely a reminder. Obviously everyone out there is there when it gets heated. We all want to win. Everyone wants to win. Coming along with that competitiveness, is anger. Sometimes you just got to control that and move forward."