Eels' Nines win a shot of confidence: Arthur
In light of Parramatta's 22-4 win over hometown heroes the Warriors, Eels coach Brad Arthur hailed their Downer NRL Auckland Nines tournament victory as an important boost before season kick-off.
A victory chockfull of confidence the Eels mentor was adamant his side's defence was the telling factor in the end.
"Hopefully it builds a little bit of belief. We wanted to work really hard for each other in defence and I think we got through to the grand final being one of the better defensive teams and we won the grand final off the back of our defence," Arthur said.
"We got a bit lucky early with a bounce of the ball but to be the boys' credit they really aimed up the whole tournament.
"[The victory is] important. We come here and we want to be a team that strives to compete at everything we do. I think we showed plenty of competitiveness, we just need to go back, relax and get ready for a big year."
Parramatta captain and MVP of the Auckland Nines Corey Norman agreed with his coach's sentiments, with the club winning their first trophy since the 2003 World Sevens.
"It's good we won it, and like Brad said it's a bit of confidence but it really doesn't mean anything when it comes to Round 1 if you know what I mean," Norman said.
"You always want to back yourself, we were confident going into the game no matter who we played and we knew we just had to play our kind of footy for things to go our way."
On Norman, Arthur said: "He's maturing and growing with his leadership and I'm pretty hard on him. I put a lot of pressure on him at training."
Norman was joined in the Team of the Tournament by young gun Bevan French, but don't expect him to get a nod in the NRL anytime soon.
French was far and away the leading try-scorer of the Nines, scoring eight tries – two more than teammate Semi Radradra.
"We have some boys there who have been training in the backline for Round 1 and Bevan's not part of that. He's only young and he's still got a lot to learn," Arthur said.
"He played well and he was fortunate to be on the end of some pretty slick passing. Our forwards I thought were really good throughout the tournament actually. All the backs get all the accolades but our forwards were solid."
Meanwhile it was relatively drama-free tournament for the Eels, especially after losing three players throughout the 2015 edition.
"John Folau has a hamstring strain and we nearly played Manu Ma'u in the grand final, he's only really got a bump to his knee," Arthur said.
"But we were happy with the boys who got us this far and Manu is a pretty important player in our team and not someone we were prepared to gamble on."