Des Hasler reckons the State of Origin series was the making of David Klemmer as a bona fide NRL star.
While NSW suffered an epic meltdown in the Origin decider to hand the shield back to Queensland, giant forward Klemmer left a lasting impression on the Maroons in his first interstate series.
Ahead of Friday night’s clash against Parramatta, Canterbury coach Hasler said his 21-year-old enforcer came of age over his three games in the sky blue.
“It’s been a great experience for Dave,” he said.
“David doesn’t over complicate things. That’s the most refreshing thing about Dave. He just gets on, gets the job done.
“I thought he had a great series. He’s really established himself as a player.”
The 21-year-old returned to his role off the bench in the Bulldogs’ loss to Brisbane last week after the return of skipper James Graham.
But Klemmer rates very highly with Hasler, who said the Kangaroos representative still had plenty of improvement left.
“He knows there’s still parts of his game he needs to address,” Hasler said.
“And that’s the exciting thing about watching young players such as David come through the ranks.”
Klemmer, is an Eels product, having played his junior football with the All Saints Toongabbie Tigers in the Parramatta local league.
But the Bulldogs quickly snapped up the fiery front-rower at age 15, adding to the lengthy list of Eels juniors now plying their trade for other clubs.
Blues No.7 Trent Hodkinson has been re-united with former NSW five-eighth Josh Reynolds in the halves, pushing rising star Moses Mbye to the bench.
“Moses, it’s been a big couple of weeks for him,” Hasler explained.
“And it’s really important that as a young player… he has that versatility role about him, (so he’s) one that we don’t really want to rush.”
Hasler also moved to praise this week’s opposition for keeping themselves in finals contention despite a season riddled with off-field controversies, including the Kieran Foran contract saga and the salary cap breaches that resulted in the third-heaviest fine in NRL history.
“They’ve been going very well. They’ve just been going along quietly,” he said of the Eels.
“They’ve overcome certain challenges, not so much on the field, but off the field.
“The playing group have stuck really close, which is good to see, and Brad’s got them playing well and with a bit of belief.”