Coach Brad Arthur expects to get a true gauge of Parramatta’s premiership credentials when captain Kieran Foran makes his club debut in Saturday’s NRL clash with defending champions North Queensland.
Provided he remains unscathed following Friday’s captain’s run, marquee signing Foran will make his first appearance for the Eels after missing last week’s season opening loss to Brisbane with a hamstring issue.
Coach Brad Arthur was confident the Kiwi international would finally don the blue-and-gold and had no doubt what he could add.
“A bit of calmness. A bit of direction. Second half last week we lost our way a little bit,” Arthur said.
With almost an entire roster at his disposal – five-eighth Corey Norman is certain to be fit to partner Foran in the halves – Arthur said Saturday would provide a genuine insight into how his rebuilt Eels are placed.
Only veteran second-rower Anthony Watmough remains sidelined, out indefinitely with a shoulder issue.
“We still haven’t got a real true indication where we’re at with our footy team,” he said.
“Last week, after half a footy we lost Corey Norman. Hopefully, if we can keep everyone on the field, we’ll get a better indication of where we’re at.”
The Cowboys’ last visit to Pirtek Stadium was a historic one as they equalled the second biggest comeback in premiership history by scoring 30 points in 13 minutes to steal a 36-30 win.
Arthur admitted games like that forced him to reach deep into the player market over the summer and secure big-name signings Foran, Michael Jennings, Beau Scott and Michael Gordon.
“That’s why we brought in the players that we did to help in our game management,” he said.
“We’ve done a lot of work in our pre-season with our game management.
“Last week the second half was evidence of that. While we lost our way a bit in attack, we didn’t drop our bundle in defence.
“The amount of ball we turned over in the second half, that could’ve got quite ugly for us, which it has previously.”
Foran’s return means Luke Kelly has been pushed back to reserve grade, while Danny Wicks comes onto the bench for 18th man Daniel Alvaro.
For the Cowboys, coach Paul Green has named the same 17 that edged out Cronulla at home last week, which was the same line-up that took out the premiership last October.
STATS THAT MATTER
* The past four matches between these two teams at Pirtek Stadium has been decided by six points or less, while 14 of the 18 have been decided by 12 points or less.
* The Cowboys have dominated the final 20 minutes of their past seven games, outscoring the Eels 114-0.
* The Cowboys have not won consecutive matches to start a season since 2007.