Proud night for the Takairangi Eels
Parramatta club debutant Brad Takairangi had an outstanding start to his blue and gold career against Manly, and it was made even sweeter by the fact he was following in his father's footsteps at the western Sydney club.
Louis Takairangi played three games on the wing for Parramatta in 1987, for two losses and one win, scoring one try. Peter Sterling was the halfback in those three games and the great Eric Grothe was on the opposite wing in two of them.
Asked about the family legacy, Brad Takairangi told NRL.com it had been a proud moment.
"He played in 87 I think it was. He tells me all the time how good he used to play!" he laughed.
"It was a proud moment for our family in general. Him playing for Parra and me following in his footsteps, he's pretty proud and pretty happy."
It almost wasn't to be, with Takairangi nursing an ankle injury after the Auckland Nines that almost saw him miss Round 1. It was fortuitous in a way; after training over the summer at right centre Takairangi ended up on the left where his fresh combination with try-scoring sensation Semi Radradra cut Manly's right-side defence to shreds in the 42-12 win.
"[The injury] was very much ready to go and full credit to our physio, she's been working overtime on me and I can't thank her enough," Takairangi said.
"It's awesome [working with Semi] – I've actually trained most of the summer on the right hand side. Since coming back from my injury I just started to go to the left hand side and it's working a treat I guess."
Working a treat is right; Radradra repeated his Round 1 2014 performance, once again kicking off the new season with a hat-trick – making him the first player in NRL history to start consecutive seasons in that fashion. Takairangi was heavily involved, setting up two of Radradra's tries and scoring one of his own.
The Eels backs ran amok in the second half as the forwards ground the Manly pack out of the game, with new winger Reece Robinson also having a great game outside big centre Beau Champion.
"It was awesome – we've got great shape and great game plan. Our forwards laid the platform for us and it paid off for the outside backs," Takairangi said.
"We are [strong in the backs] but in saying that we can't do much unless our forwards are laying the platform. They're laying the platform and we're just feeding off it."