Parramatta are bracing for a fired-up Nathan Peats when they host Gold Coast in Saturday’s NRL clash in Darwin.
It will be the first time Peats plays his former teammates since being hurried out of the club to the Titans mid-season to help resolve the Eels’ salary cap woes.
“Nathan’s a competitor. We know what we’re going to get from him, he’ll be fired up,” said Eels coach Brad Arthur on Friday.
“He’s very busy in defence, he’s real committed and he plays tough and I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to it.”
Arthur said his former charge already commanded respect from the Eels.
“He doesn’t have a point to prove, he’s got plenty of credibility and runs on the board the way he plays,” he said.
While Peats caught up with some of his former teammates in Darwin on Wednesday, Eels players are expecting him to be far from friendly on Saturday.
“He’s a very competitive guy, Peatsy, so he’ll be out there to win and so will we,” said Eels halfback Luke Kelly.
“He’s very aggressive too, so I’m sure he’ll be trying to square up with a couple of the boys.”
While he was initially angered at having to leave western Sydney, Peats has plenty of reasons to be glad he made the switch.
A rugged Titans side have climbed into the top eight, while fifth-placed Parramatta face plunging to the foot of the ladder in the next fortnight when the NRL brings down its final salary cap breach findings.
Titans five-eighth Tyrone Roberts said Peats had fitted in well with his new side and was experienced enough to handle facing off against his former teammates.
“He knows the plays now, he knows what’s expected of him and he knows his role,” said Roberts.
“On the field it’s a totally different story, off the field he’s got his good mates at Parra, I’m sure he’ll rip in for us and let them know he’s sorely missed.”
Arthur has given forward Kenny Edwards first crack at filling the No.6 jumper of skipper Kieran Foran, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury.
Former St George Illawarra prop Rory O’Brien has also been selected to make his club debut.
For the Titans, mid-season signing and 18th man Konrad Hurrell is expected to force his way into the line-up to also make his club debut.
STATS THAT MATTER
* The Titans’ 9-4 record against the Eels is their best against any opponent in the NRL.
* This is the third straight season the Eels have moved a game to Darwin, winning games against Canberra and Penrith in low-scoring affairs.
* Parramatta has scored more than 22 points just once this season.