Scott set to renew rivalry with JT
One man can't change a team, but Beau Scott has certainly gone close. Having arrived at the Parramatta Eels in the off-season with 200 first grade games under his belt, the former Shark, Dragon and Knight brought with him a steely edge that was missing from the blue and golds in recent times, and has the Eels on the right track to make the finals for the first time since 2009.
Parramatta has enjoyed a 5-2 start in 2016, including a gritty 20-16 win over defending premiers the Cowboys in Round 2. Six weeks later and the two sides are set to do battle again, but this time on North Queensland's home turf.
Scott says he is embracing the enormity of this weekend's match-up which he feels will be a litmus test to see just how well the Eels are tracking.
"We'll take a fair bit of confidence out of that win. It'll be a different dimension playing at their home ground, but we can take a look at what we did well in that game and what we can improve on," Scott said.
"Road trips are always a big challenge, whether you're going to North Queensland or New Zealand or Canberra.
"The Cowboys are obviously playing red-hot football at the moment so it's going to make the trip more difficult for us. I think it's a trip we should be looking forward to as it's going to really challenge us as a playing group."
The match-day program will read 'Cowboys v Eels' but most of the focus will be on Scott's dual with Johnathan Thurston. The pair have enjoyed some heated battles at both club and state level, with the Cowboys' halfback attracting plenty of attention from his veteran nemesis over the years.
Scott told NRL.com that he treats the Maroons No.7 no differently to anyone else, but admits it's always good to leave a little reminder of what he can do, especially with State of Origin just around the corner.
"His role in their team is to be the key playmaker and my role is to limit the key playmaker's opportunities and influence on the game," he said.
"It's what I do week to week, but if people want to blow it out of proportion, then that's up to them. I guess the fact that I play him possibly up to five times a year has made it more of a big deal.
"You try to make a statement against anyone you play against. You want them the next time they come against you to be thinking about what happened the last time you played."
Scott's influence on the rest of his teammates has been telling throughout 2016, and Eels centre Brad Takairangi said having him in the side will be crucial when they take on Thurston and his Cowboys this weekend.
"Playing the best players in the world is the best challenge you can get, but we've got someone like Beau Scott on our team. I think JT will hate playing 'Beauy' – I think anyone would hate playing against 'Beauy'," Takairangi told NRL.com.
"I think he's brought that mental edge to the team. He just brings that no-nonsense style to the game and his defence has been awesome for us.
"He does so much of the cleaning up work and stuff that goes unnoticed, but it doesn't go unnoticed amongst the players."
For 20-year-old Tepai Moeroa, Scott's arrival at the club signalled a change in his intensity both on and off the field.
The Parramatta lock admits his new teammate can be tough on the rest of the playing group, but says it's the motivation they needed.
"He leads with actions and I think that's the biggest thing. He doesn't just tell us, he shows us what we should do," Moeroa said.
"You can tell in the games that he is aggressive off the line, he whacks in defence and he runs hard. I think by doing that he's telling us and showing us what we should do.
"If we do something wrong then he'll get up us and let us know it's not good enough. That's how it should be. We all want to be better players and a better team so that's what we need to do to get there."