No shortage of leaders at new-look Eels
Three senior Eels recruits have already made a huge difference during the pre-Christmas stint of the club's pre-season training.
One-time Sea Eagle David Gower told NRL.com his 2011 Grand Final teammate Kieran Foran's professionalism and competitiveness were already shining through in his time at Parramatta while fellow new faces Beau Scott and Michael Gordon were bringing their considerable experience to bear.
"Those three guys are internationals or Origin players for a reason," Gower said.
"The professionalism of those three guys and even the other guys we've brought in, we've brought in experience and NRL-calibre players. All the boys are fitting in well and we're all training hard.
"'Foz' has been great. He's a great fella and he fit straight in. He's a very likable character. The boys can see his professionalism on and off the field. He's been great for us, he's a good leader, he's here for us to do a job and we expect him to do that for us."
There was a gulf in experience in the Eels forward pack late last season with Anthony Watmough and Danny Wicks joining an injured list that had featured Kenny Edwards right from the 2015 pre-season. With all those three back on deck, competition for spots at the club will be intense in 2016.
"We're happy with the forward depth we've got and the competition for spots is fantastic and it's a really good vibe at training," Gower said.
"We're pushing each other along as hard as we physically can and we have to because we know there's only a certain amount of players that can be picked Round 1 and we all want to be there."
A newer, harder edge in the blue and golds should mean the team is better at putting away close games – a critical flaw for Brad Arthur's men in 2015 as they just missed the finals.
"We let a lot of opportunities slip last season and that was the difference," Gower said.
"Probably the last two years actually come to think of it. But as a squad moving forward it's a new team and a new year for us and we're looking forward to the challenge 2016's going to bring."
While the players are not yet getting ahead of themselves, Gower said he was happy for the blue and gold army to be optimistic.
"The fans are the fans for a reason; they get excited every year and we as players get excited to play every year," he said.
"At the moment our sole focus is on improving every session and we're going to continue to do that every session... we're going to come back in the new year and really rip in knowing the games are only around the corner. We're trying to do as much work as we can now and hopefully we're rewarded during the season."
Fellow forward Danny Wicks added it felt like a very different vibe compared to a year ago.
"I'm not saying there wasn't any energy last year but those guys bring a different element," Wicks said.
"Beau's a tough man and everyone knows it, he brings a bit of mongrel. You've got 'Foz' who's just an all round great bloke and player. He brings that experience to a side and Gordon's the same, he just keeps turning up. Everyone knows the quality of fullback he is."