Mannah not distracted by captaincy
Parramatta's 2015 captain Tim Mannah says while being captain of the club he has spent his whole life at is something he cherishes, the thought of losing the role to star recruit Kieran Foran isn't playing on his mind.
Coach Brad Arthur has said he won't decide on who will fill the role until late in the pre-season and Mannah – who shared duties with Jarryd Hayne in 2013 and 2014 before taking it on solely following Hayne's departure in 2015 – is no certainty to retain the honour.
"It is a huge honour; it is definitely something I really cherish. But in saying that it is not something I am going to put before the team," Mannah said this week from Eels pre-season training.
"At the end of the day it is always team first. I personally think I had my best season last year. There are a number of reasons for that but I definitely feel that having that extra responsibility is something I have grown in and definitely a part of my game I really want to develop.
"Whether I have the 'C' next to my name or not, I want to be someone that is a good leader of this place and a good leader of this team."
One of the reasons for Mannah's improved form and consistency in 2015 – which culminated in the Ken Thornett medal for the club's Players' Player at the end-of-season awards night – was a serious spray from Arthur about his commitment back in January.
It's more proof Arthur is happy to push reputations aside to try and get the best out of his players and for his part Mannah said he wasn't worried about which way the coach would decide.
"I am definitely not worried. I think it's something that as a player you leave decisions like that up to the coaches. Brad has a real clear direction about where he wants to take this team," Mannah said.
"He made it very clear to the players that our role is not to worry about anything other than what we can control, which is becoming better athletes every day."
For his part, Foran expressed support for the job Mannah had done in his three years in the role.
"To be honest, Tim has done a tremendous job over the years, he's a really great leader," Foran said.
"He's someone I'm sure all the boys like to follow. I haven't thought about it, it's not something I've even really looked into. At the moment I'm just focusing on my training, blending in and getting to know everyone. I'm sure 'BA' will deal with that sort of things."
Foran's simple presence is enough to give Eels fans optimism and Mannah said while Foran's recruitment had given the players a lift the whole squad still needed to improve regardless of what Foran brings to the side.
"He (Foran) adds a bit of a calming effect on the team, especially the backline. But there are guys all across the park who are really starting to grow. There is a squad of about 38 of us at the moment. Everyone's role at the moment is as important as everyone else," Mannah said.
"When you walk in here you can definitely feel a bit of difference; that is not something that happened overnight. That's something Brad and his staff here have built over the last two and half years. So we didn't just get there overnight. But there is definitely a different feeling in the air."
After some dark years, including back-to-back wooden spoons in 2012 and 2013, Mannah said it felt like 2015 was a step forward and there was light at the end of the tunnel.
"There is definitely a bit of light at the end of the tunnel where we are at the moment. But like I said I don't need to add any more pressure on Kieran or any more pressure on Brad," Mannah said.
"In terms of Kieran and his footy, we don't need any more pressure on him. In terms of Brad and his position as coach, he doesn't need any external influences adding more pressure. I'll leave it to him.
"To be honest, the more I speak about it and the more other people speak about it, the more pressure it is. For us, it is a matter of letting him work with the staff and work with what he needs to do to get his body in tune. For me personally, it's about how we can get better individually. We'll let the staff and Kieran worry about improving Kieran.
"Brad has made the call for everyone to make sure they are improving as individuals. That's all I want to worry about at the moment. It's about pushing myself to my limits every day."