New Eels recruit Richie Fa'aoso, embarking on a remarkable comeback from a broken neck that seemed destined to end his career, has received a strong vote of support from his former Manly teammate and now-Dragon George Rose.
Rose and Fa'aoso came off the bench together for the majority of Manly's 2013 campaign, including three successive finals games – the third of which, a preliminary final against the Rabbitohs, Fa'aoso suffered a seemingly career-ending broken neck.
Rose played the following week in the Grand Final loss to the Roosters with Fa'aoso's place taken by his now-Parramatta teammate David Gower.
There has been a clear plan at Parramatta to add some experience and good old-fashioned mongrel to what was largely a talented, mobile, but mostly green forward pack. And Rose reckons Fa'aoso is just the man Eels coach Brad Arthur needs.
"I reckon he'll do great – I was really excited when I heard the news that he'd be back," Rose told NRL.com when asked how he thought his former teammate would go.
"He's a real good bloke, a good fella to have at the club. I know it was a big loss when he got hurt at Manly because he plays at 100 miles an hour and that's how he got injured."
Rose said he had spent plenty of time speaking to Fa'aoso during the latter's injury-enforced time away from the game.
"He was just that keen to try and get back in or get doing something because he's always been that type of fella who if he wasn't playing footy he'd probably be boxing or doing MMA or something, because he's a pretty tough fella.
"To go to a club like Parramatta, I think he'll do a good job there. They've got a pretty good squad this year and a good coach in Brad Arthur, so I think it'll be great for Richie and I think he'll have a big impact."
It will be Fa'aoso's second incarnation as an Eel, having played a single first grade game there in 2007, following one year stints at Penrith (2004), the Roosters (2005) and Castleford (2006) before finally settling into a five-year stint at Newcastle from 2008. A brief six-game stint at the Storm in late 2012 netted him a premiership ring before he shifted to Manly then Parramatta.
After a cautious start from medical staff, Fa'aoso has been named to run out onto a rugby league field for the first time since that horror game against the Rabbitohs when he takes the field in Alice Springs this weekend in a trial against Wests Tigers.
This time around, Rose said it will be Fa'aoso's hardened attitude and experience that will make him an asset to the blue and gold.
"[Mongrel] is something that Richie's definitely got. I used to give it to him about the 30 clubs he's been at over his eight year career! He's been everywhere so he's got plenty of experience. He's going to do a great job there I reckon. His aggression and impact that he provides will be great for them."