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Mitch graft: How Arthur knows Moses will handle pressure

Brad Arthur knew before pre-season had kicked off that Mitch Moses was gearing up for a massive 2021.

As the Parramatta coach returned to the club's Kellyville headquarters while the players were still on break, he unexpectedly saw the halfback grafting away in a training session under the summer sun when he could have been relaxing anywhere else with his feet up.

Moses, 26, caught flak after the Eels squandered a third-place finish last year as they again underperformed in the finals.

But leading into Friday night's round-one clash with the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, Arthur told the media why he's so confident in Moses being able to "embrace" the external expectation.

"In the pre-season when I was floating around – the boys weren't supposed to be in here [at training] - Mitch was often in here, not knowing that I was going to be in here," Arthur said.

"I hope he doesn't mind me saying this, but he had someone working with him. So he's obviously pumped for a big season.

Broncos v Eels - Round 1

"He knows how important it was to get himself right physically. He does a lot of work that people don't see.

"He's passionate. He might rub people up the wrong way sometimes, but he's passionate and he just wants to win. There is pressure on him and the team and all halves in the competition.

"He does a lot of stuff off his own bat, so the stuff in the pre-season was more around getting his body right. The way the game's going, the blokes that are really on top of themselves physically with their fitness are going to make better decisions under fatigue."

The fuse is lit: An action-packed Round 1 awaits

It's not the first time that Moses has taken the initiative of a headstart on training. He famously gave up a trip to Las Vegas after Parramatta's horror 2018 campaign to improve his game.

The No.7's sacrifice resulted in the 2019 Dally M Halfback of the Year gong; he'd love a premiership to be his next reward.

Moses has an option in his favour to stay at the Eels in 2022, but captain Clint Gutherson wants the former Wests Tigers playmaker's deal extended.

"He's the leader of our team on the field and Mitch has been great for so many years," Gutherson told NRL.com.

"He's still our leader now and it'd be great if the club can lock him up for the long term [to] give them a bit of security and him.

"He's in for a big year this year. There's always a bit of pressure on him, but he's going to eat it up."

Arthur used Gutherson, who finished second in last season's overall Dally M Medal count, as an example of a player who usually makes smart decisions because of his elite conditioning.

Match Highlights: Panthers v Eels

The non-stop fullback thinks the new rule changes, including six-agains covering offside penalties, could give him an edge.

"Hopefully, I can get involved a bit more and adapt to the rules and make it work. But you're not going to know until four, five, six rounds in. Then you'll be able to see which way to go about it," he said.

"It's going to take a few weeks to get used to and see how [the referees] patrol it out there every week.

"It's going to be a lot faster than last year, however they do it. It's good for the fans. The ball's going to be in play longer, there's not going to be those breaks, so it's going to be exciting."

One number will follow Parramatta around all season - 35, the amount of years since they last won the title.

And Arthur is not shying away from premiership talk.

"I'd like to be able to stand here and guarantee that we're going to win the competition. I'd like to guarantee our fans, our board," he said.

"I'd like to be able to guarantee my daughter; she wants to get a dog out of it. But what I can guarantee you is that we're going to give it a red-hot crack and give it our best opportunity.

"My daughter's been pestering me for a dog for a long time. I think it went right back to the Nines; she said if we won the [2016] Nines, I promised her I'd get her a dog. I reneged.

"But to win a competition, if it means I have to pick up dog poo for the rest of my life, I'm happy to do that. Whatever, I don't care."

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