Foran: My role won't change
It's only early in the pre-season but star Eels recruit Kieran Foran says he isn't expecting to have to change the way he plays despite leaving Manly – and fellow star half Daly Cherry-Evans – behind.
With two dominant internationals paired at the scrumbase, Manly had the luxury if playing one each side of the ruck (Cherry-Evans on the right, Foran on the left), to great effect with several years of dominance and one premiership.
There has been speculation that a move to the Eels, coupled with confirmation this week from Brad Arthur that Foran will wear the blue and gold No.7 jersey once owned by Eels legend Peter Sterling, would see Foran shift his style to more of a controlling halfback.
But with Foran's first-choice halves partner Corey Norman enjoying a breakout year last year capped by his NRL captaincy debut late in the season when Tim Mannah missed a game through injury, Arthur's men are shaping up to stick with the practice of the two halves playing one side of the ruck each.
The fact Norman has matured so well as a playmaker and been able to develop the skills to be a controlling half without losing his electric running game means the left-side/right-side approach is a genuine option for Arthur next year.
Speaking from Parramatta's recently-upgraded training base at Old Saleyards reserve in North Parramatta on Thursday, Foran said he was excited by the much-needed switch to a new club.
"It's been really good, something I've really been looking forward to. I was excited by the change and something I felt I needed at this stage," he said.
"We haven't spoken too much about [how the playmaking structures will work] to be honest with you at the moment, it's been all running and weights. We haven't even spoken about how we want to play yet but I'm sure we'll get down to it in a few weeks once we start on ball-work.
"It doesn't change too much from what I've been doing the last few years, to be honest with you.
"Me and 'Cherry' split the field, controlled left and right, and this is going to be no different this year with myself and 'Normy'. We'll split the field, nothing changes too much."
Foran said while he is aware of the pressure and tradition associated with the Parramatta halfback jersey he wasn't focusing on that.
"I've said it before, there's pressure with any gig. Any club you start with, there will be expectations and pressures. It's a challenge but at the moment as a group we are focusing on tearing into training," Foran said.
The 25-year-old missed five games for the Sea Eagles last year due to a troublesome hammy but said he was hopeful those issues were behind him.
"We're just fixing everything up now. I had a few issues with injuries and we're just re-strengthening everything. Hopefully I won't have any hammy injuries next year, fingers crossed," he said.
Of his much-publicised move out west – which was eventually finalised despite several contractual issues – Foran said while it was natural to have doubts over such a big decision the move was what he needed.
"You always have those doubts with anything you do, you doubt if you've made the right decision in doing that, but I honestly haven't had to think twice about it since being here. I've been really enjoying myself and am focused on ripping in and getting fit with the boys and having as good a pre-season as we can possibly have," he said.
"I just felt like a change would be good for me. There's not too much more to it than that, just the change would be good for me, to get the opportunity to come back and play under Brad. He's someone I really enjoyed working with when I was at Manly and I just thought I could get a lot out of 'BA'. I'm excited by the change."
While Foran made reference to having to learn a few names there are also no shortage of familiar faces given the high volume of traffic moving between Manly and Parramatta in recent seasons. Just this year Foran has moved across with fellow former Sea Eagles Clint Gutherson and James Hasson, while close mate Anthony Watmough moved across a year earlier and they all worked under Brad Arthur when he was an assistant at Manly.
"It's good to have a few of the Manly boys here. Obviously 'Choc' being here, David Gower, 'Gutho' and 'Hass', there's a fair crew of us here from the Manly club. We're just fitting in, getting to know everyone and I'm still learning everyone's names," he said.
It all means the familiar Parra-Manly rivalry will be as spicy as ever, if not more so.
"It will be good. There's always been a bit of a rivalry there, I don't think it will be any different this time around. It will be great to come up against the boys again, I've got some great mates there. It will be good to see them," Foran said.