Parramatta five-eighth Corey Norman believes new Dragon Benji Marshall will come out with a point to prove should he make his NRL return against the Eels on Saturday afternoon.
Dragons coach Steve Price didn't name Marshall on Tuesday but didn't rule out making him a late inclusion this week. Should the failed rugby convert make this fated return against Parramatta, Norman expects to see a totally new player – and a different Dragons team than the one that was pounded by the Bulldogs last weekend.
"It's going to be his first game back, and obviously he'll be excited and he'll want to prove something. He'll come out firing," Norman said.
Norman said that while Marshall has been welcomed back with open arms by the game he left just six months ago, the reception won't be nearly as warm at Pirtek Stadium, where the Eels are yet to lose a game this year.
"He'll get a few boos [from the crowd] but if he's playing, that's going to lift the Dragons and it's going to make it a harder game. We're looking forward to it. It should be good," he said.
"Benji's a bit unpredictable and he's got all the flashy plays. So I'm sure he'll come up with a couple of them during the game. We've just got to make sure we shut that down."
If Marshall does make the Dragons team on Saturday, the 29-year-old Kiwi representative can expect to see plenty of traffic out wide, having rarely been tested defensively in his short stint with the Auckland Blues.
"He's a top player, we can't take anything from him," said Eels forward Junior Paulo. "But I guess we'll see what the game plan is according to BA [coach Brad Arthur] and we'll just wait and see."
Parramatta ran roughshod over Cronulla last Monday, crossing the stripe eight times for their sixth straight win at Pirtek Stadium (they lost a home game at ANZ Stadium earlier this year). Norman believes the strong Eels fanbase have been key to their strong form at home.
"We haven't lost at home so things are going well. We love playing here, especially when the fans get out and cheer us on. It helps us," he said.
"[They] make a lot of difference. When times get tough and the crowd gets behind you it gives you that little bit of energy which is good. They've been doing that really well this year."
A win over St George Illawarra would solidify Parramatta's position in the top eight, while the Dragons need a victory to keep in touch with the top half of the ladder.
The fitness of Eels hooker Nathan Peats will be monitored through the week after arriving at recovery in a moon boot. He failed to finish the game against the Sharks.