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Forgotten Eel Justin Horo has credited caretaker coach Brad Arthur with getting him back on track after a horror season that saw him suffer a series of injuries and fall out of favour with former coach Stephen Kearney.

Horo had played just two games in the top grade in 2012 before earning a recall in last week’s win over Sydney Roosters and being named in the starting 13 for Sunday’s trip to the Gold Coast.

While ankle and shoulder injuries have sidelined him for a total of 10 weeks this season, the 25-year-old admitted he didn’t believe he would be handed another opportunity while Kearney was at the helm.

“It’s been a pretty tough year with injuries and getting dropped,” he said. “I was a bit uncertain of whether I could get back in while Steve was here. It’s not that I was told anything but I kind of had a feeling with the way things were going – I ended up getting another shot against the Dragons (in Round 12) and didn’t play that well. 

“I was under the impression that it would take a few injuries to get back in there but I’m glad I’m in there now. I’m just trying to take the opportunity with both hands, finish the year well and take some confidence into next year.”

Horo said he had worked closely with Arthur this season and credited their relationship with helping him turn his season around.

“Brad has been unreal for me,” he said. “You’ve got to understand that with so much going on for Steve during the year it was kind of easier to go to the assistant coach and he works with the boys on the little things. 

“Steve was telling Brad the things I needed to work on and then he would talk to me about it once a week and run me through that stuff. He has been a great help for me this year and obviously he has given me a run again.

“And I think he has been good for the whole team, to be honest. When he first had his meeting he said he was happy for us to back ourselves in attack as long as we were prepared to roll our sleeves up and defend. The three or four weeks we’ve played under him, that’s been one of the positives. It wasn’t so good against the Tigers but all the other games we’ve done that and I think that suits us a little more. It’s been paying dividends for us.”

While Horo is keen to put 2012 behind him, he said he was particularly excited by the promise of a much improved 2013 and the arrival of new coach Ricky Stuart.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I played Flegg for the Roosters and then when I was in the -20s we did a little bit with Ricky so I got to see him first-hand and the results he got at the Roosters. I’m really looking forward to playing under him.

“I suppose to an extent the rest of this year is about showing Ricky what we can do but also we just want to keep winning games. No-one likes losing. If we’re winning games and playing good footy that will put us in good stead for Ricky next year.”

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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