Fully-fit Foran paying dividends for Eels
Star recruit Kieran Foran was hardly able to train over the off-season and appeared hampered by his troublesome hamstring over the early rounds but looked close to full fitness against the Raiders, with the rewards there for all to see.
After the game his coach Brad Arthur revealed the lead-up to the Raiders game was just the second time in his Eels career Foran had managed two ball-work sessions in a week.
While a magnificent first half solo try – created by some fancy footwork and a bit of pace – was Foran's major contribution to the highlight reel, the slick way he and five-eighth Corey Norman linked up right across the field in attacking structures was the major benefit to the Eels from his greater involvement at training.
"We started to look OK with the football," Arthur said after the game.
"'Foz' trained twice this week and against the Bulldogs he had two sessions so in the first six rounds we've only had two sessions together with our halves and I think that showed today – they just looked a bit more comfortable together."
Foran said he "felt good" on Saturday afternoon and was looking forward to getting to the point where his hamstring is no longer a subject of conversation.
"It was nice to get on the training paddock a couple of times this week going into the game and the hammy's getting better and better," Foran said.
"Hopefully after this Manly game there will be no need to worry about it and we can just get on with it."
Of the try, he added: "It was nice to find myself in some open space, I don't break the line too often so I wanted to grab it!
"I think moments like that help you get over your injuries. We've worked overtime on it, we're really comfortable that it's strong and we're not going to have any issues with it moving forward."
Foran – along with fellow veteran recruits Beau Scott, Michael Gordon and Michael Jennings – was expected to help turn around the Eels' fortunes in close games which was such a problem for them last year, and Foran admitted the on-the-siren loss to the Panthers last week had hurt.
"Although we didn't play at our best we felt like we did enough to win that game. To lose a game like that in the dying stages really hurts. Everyone was really disappointed so we wanted to make sure we came out here today and put on a really solid performance at home," he said.
"It's nice when you're able to work towards something during the week and train on certain aspects and you're able to execute it during the game. We were having some joy down that [left] side and we decided to keep going there."
The Parramatta defence continues to impress – they finished the match with just 65 points conceded in six games. It's a better record than any of the other teams to have played six so far and it's fewer points conceded than any other side after five games bar the Cowboys. If they leak 11 or more Parramatta will finish Round 6 as the best defensive team in the NRL after six games.
"The continued impressive defensive resilience was a continuation of the work put in over the pre-season, according to Foran.
"We made it a strong focus of ours during the pre-season that defence was going to be a key factor in winning games and we wanted to get all our structures right and work really hard on it and I think it's just showing what we've put in during the pre-season," he said.