Reluctant fullback Norman praises Eels spirit
Stand-in Parramatta fullback Corey Norman hopes a resolute defensive display against the Dragons on Saturday night, which earned the team two competition points for the third consecutive week, helps kick-start the side into a solid run of form.
With another bye after next Monday's ANZ Stadium clash against Wests Tigers, Norman is eyeing off 10 points in five weeks after holding on to a tense win 16-12 against the Dragons.
"It was the win we needed and the way we won it, it was perfect for us at this time of the year," Norman told NRL.com.
"A couple of weeks before we were just losing. We've worked hard the last six weeks, four of those weeks we just missed out and now it's starting to come together and we got back-to-back wins which is important... it's the first time this year we've done that.
"We've got to keep building, not get too far ahead of ourselves, enjoy a break and look forward to playing Tigers."
Norman said the side picked up where it left off against Melbourne in Round 14, despite a mounting injury toll.
"A lot of people got injured that game, everyone was out of position. We just had an ugly game and we won it. [Against the Dragons] I wouldn't say it was ugly but we held in there, I think the Dragons threw everything they had at us and to our credit we defended it and it's just what we needed."
Norman may be a reluctant No.1 but his efforts organising the team's defence earned the praise of his coach.
"He didn't get his hands on the ball as much as we liked, that's why we moved him back into the halves in attack in the second half," Arthur said of Norman after the game.
"He was safe, he organised our defence and we won the game on our defence in the second half."
Norman, who hasn't played regularly at fullback since coming into first grade at Brisbane, has said several times he prefers to play in the halves where he gets more involved and he reiterated that on Saturday night.
"It was quiet back there and a bit dewy so you can't play too much footy because you know you'll go over the sideline. I was back there, I played because I had to be there but I'd rather be in the halves," he said.
Norman still found a way to chime in on his regular left-edge role, helping create another hat-trick for try-scoring sensation Semi Radradra.
"Semi, he got a triple, he knows how to score," Norman said.
"Our left edge, we just have to keep providing that for him and that starts with the big boys in the middle. They're providing a good platform for us and we jumped on the back of that."
Norman is being spoken of as a halves partner for Kieran Foran next year if the latter ends up sticking with his decision to wear the blue and gold from 2016 despite boardroom chaos and a dispute over his contract.
Although the outcome of Foran's decision will no doubt have a major impact on Norman's football in 2016, the Parramatta playmaker – who has one year to run on his current contract – said the newspaper talk meant nothing to the playing group.
"That's just the paper hyping it up, that's got nothing to do with us, everything they're saying about Kieran and that, we haven't been buying into that," Norman said.
"We just have to keep turning up and playing for each other and that stuff will sort itself out."
Norman resreved praise for the vocal 15,000-strong crowd who turned out in the cold to support their side after a tumultuous week.
"We needed them tonight, It was very important they got down here and supported us," Norman said.
"It was a good turnout and I'm very happy we got the win for the fans. They've been very loyal and like we've been saying we're a bit disappointed, a few games we should have won and we didn't. They stuck with us which is good."
Both Arthur and skipper Tim Mannah also praised the healthy turnout after the game.
"A big thank you to our fans because they were outstanding tonight and it really helped. Our boys wanted to put a show on for them. I think we did that tonight," Arthur said.
Added Mannah: "I've said all along for a very long time now we've had some pretty tough times at the club over the years but I thought, I may be biased, but our fans have got to be one of the best in the comp.
"They just keep turning up and they've got some reasons to not be so happy at times but the way they support us is something we don't take for granted. We're very lucky and blessed to have fans like we do."