Eels' quiet achiever's perfect run

Eels' quiet achiever's perfect run

While Parramatta's power-packed forward game and in-form halves have been the big talking points in their recent six-game winning run, it is a man who started the season as a third-string hooker who has not only survived but thrived after getting a long-awaited chance.

For 2016 recruit Cam King, 18 months of slogging away in reserve grade has paid off in spades following the forced retirement of first-choice hooker Isaac De Gois (concussion) and a season-ending injury to back-up Kaysa Pritchard (knee).

King's five NRL starts for Parramatta have seen him on the winning team in all five games; for most teams losing your first and second choice No.9s would be disaster but King has ensured that scenario has been anything but disastrous for the Eels.

Speaking to NRL.com after his fifth straight win – a convincing 20-4 result over Canterbury on Thursday – King laughed off his own contribution to the club's recent win streak.

"I've been lucky to come into a great team and just doing my job at the moment. We're playing some good footy as a team," King said.

"We're lucky to have good depth in all positions so anyone that comes in can do a job and not let anyone down. It's a credit to the staff and board for having a strong squad."

‌Another thing King has done well of late is step up to 80-minute stints. After averaging around 60 minutes in his first three games, King has looked untroubled in his past two 80-minute games. The change has allowed coach Brad Arthur to pick four forwards on the bench rather than a utility, and it has proved pivotal in the Eels' pack shutting down the dangerous Brisbane and Canterbury forwards in those two games.

"It's been all right, I had that month of footy to get match fit for NRL," King said.

"That's the job Brad wants and needs me to do at the moment so until he says otherwise I'll keep doing that.

"I've had a couple of cramps here and there but I'm just finding my feet again and I had a month of solid minutes which helped me. I've just got to pick my times here and there and play a bit smarter."

 


King has shown a tendency to play what's in front of him out of dummy half, capitalising on quick play-the-balls close to the line and kicking astutely when required. Just a few blades of grass have denied King a maiden try in blue and gold on several occasions over the past month.

"I'm trying aren't I?" King laughed of his series of near-tries of late.

"Our forwards are rolling forward at the moment and it's giving me a chance to get a quick play-the-ball here and there so I'll keep testing the defence and I might get one one day."

With the Eels having all-but guaranteed a finals berth with four rounds to play and plenty of winnable games to come, the question over the Eels' finals hopes is moving from 'will they make it' to 'how high can they finish'. 

"Obviously top four would be ideal and if we can keep winning we put ourselves in that position to finish as high as possible," King said.

"But it's so congested around that fifth to eighth, we've just got to keep winning at this stage and let the rest take care of itself."