Eisenhuth eager to commit to Tigers
It took years slogging away in reserve grade and a cancer scare before Matt Eisenhuth earned his NRL call-up and now the 24-year-old is eager to repay the faith shown by the Wests Tigers by inking a new contract with the club.
A former Australian Schoolboy representative, Eisenhuth came through the grades at Parramatta before he was cut by then coach Ricky Stuart and ended up at the Panthers where he first came into contact with Ivan Cleary.
A change of coach at the foot of the mountains saw Eisenhuth make another move, this time to the Tigers, and after 18 months toiling away in the Intrust Super Premiership earned his coveted NRL debut in Round 15 and he hasn't missed a game since.
At 192 centimetres and 108 kilograms Eisenhuth is hard to miss on a footy field and as he prepares to face his former club on Sunday continues to grow in stature with each game that he plays in the top grade.
In addition to his powerful carries and rock-solid defence it was Eisenhuth's ball-playing against the Titans last Sunday that was most eye-catching, Cleary shuffling the popular Elijah Taylor to the second row in order to accommodate Eisenuth in the starting team.
By signing the likes of Ben Matulino, Russell Packer and Chris McQueen the Tigers have bolstered their forward pack significantly looking ahead to 2018 and Eisenhuth is hoping to also secure his future in the coming weeks.
"The last couple of weeks the talks have started to get underway," Eisenhuth told NRL.com.
"My priority is to stay here. I want to stay here. The club's moving in the right direction and I want to be a part of that.
"I'll just leave it up to my manager for now and I'm sure he'll come to me when something's ready to be done."
Whilst playing for the Panthers in 2014 Eisenhuth complained of pain in his knee and the discovery of a benign tumour put his rugby league career in very real jeopardy.
Cleary was head coach at the Panthers at that time and was delighted to give Eisenhuth his long-awaited debut this year and hinted that he will be given the chance to add to his tally of first grade games with the Tigers next year and beyond.
"We'd certainly like to. We're pretty close to sorting that out," Cleary said when asked about the prospect of Eisenhuth signing a new deal.
"Matt's been really good. He was at the Panthers when I was coaching there and he was actually really unlucky. He got a tumour in his leg and playing football was probably the last thing on his mind at that stage.
"He's a smart kid, he's worked really hard playing lower grades for a while and he's got his opportunity and he's certainly taken it."
With 50 games in the NYC across three seasons with the Eels and the rugby league world seemingly at his feet, Eisenhuth conceded that it has taken the rocky road he has been on the past four years to appreciate what playing NRL really meant to him.
"I probably took those little things for granted," admitted Eisenhuth, the cousin of Sharks skipper Paul Gallen.
"When you were younger and you were coming through the grades you were thinking that it was all just going to be handed to you but how hard I've had to work, you appreciate it a lot more.
"In hindsight it's a great thing. I'm really appreciative to the Tigers for giving me an opportunity and just taking every game as it comes and loving every minute of it.
"You have your doubts but I said when I made my debut game that I would have been happy to just go back and play A Grade footy with my brothers back locally.
"Just getting back and playing footy was the goal. Everything since that has been a bonus because it's what I love to do and to be where I am now I'm pretty happy.
"To be part of the first grade side regularly was a goal and to be living it is outstanding."