With his competition for the Manly No.9 jersey falling by the wayside, young gun Matt Parcell has declared himself ready to step up to the big time.
The 23-year-old is heavily tipped to be the Sea Eagles’ starting hooker this year as new coach Trent Barrett puts his stamp on the NRL side.
Parcell came to the club after starring in Ipswich’s NRL Club Championship win over Newcastle on grand final day last year and he has also been given a clear passage to stake his claim in the pre-season.
Veteran rake Matt Ballin has been jettisoned to the Wests Tigers, Jayden Hodges has suffered a possible season-ending knee injury at the Auckland Nines and it was confirmed on Monday fellow recruit Apisai Koroisau had been charged with illegal entry to a property.
Even withstanding the charges, Koroisau – who was considered Parcell’s main competition for a starting spot – is racing the clock to recover from a shoulder injury and be fit for the side’s final trial against Ipswich at Pittwater Park in two weeks.
“I’d love to start,” Parcell said.
“We’ll see how Api is going with his shoulder but if I get it I’ll grab the opportunity with both hands.
“I feel like I’m ready. Last year was really good and I got a lot of confidence out of that but I’m ready to make the step up and play NRL week in and week out.”
Parcell was among the standouts for a gallant Manly outfit at the Nines which bowed out in the quarter-finals after finally succumbing to a horror injury toll.
He earned glowing praise from Barrett after being forced to play all but five minutes of the Sea Eagles’ four matches over the weekend.
Parcell played six first-grade games for Brisbane last year and returned to break his former club’s heart when he scored with the last play in Manly’s 11-8 win in the first round of pool matches on Saturday.
He showed his class when he chased through and dived on a Nathan Green grubber to hand his team a memorable victory.
“It was really good to get it against the Broncs,” Parcell said.
“I saw Greenie go down the sideline and I called for him to kick it back in field but he got a bit of a roll on it, I thought `I can get there’ and it was great to end it like that.”