Parramatta centre Joel Reddy is set to miss the Eels remaining two trials, as he still recovers from off-season shoulder surgery, and he might just be eased back through the NSW Cup instead of playing in the NRL in Rd 1.
”We’re expecting Joel to be cleared to play on the weekend of round one, but whether that’s with Parramatta or lower [with Wentworthville] remains to be seen,” Eels coach Steve Kearney said yesterday.”
”We’re going to have to weigh that up when we get closer to the season kick-off and see how he has progressed.”
With Reddy likely to be eased back in the NSW Cup, Luke Burt will be the only player from the Eels three-quarter line of last year, to be in the line-up, given the departures of Timana Tahu, Jonathon Wright and Eric Grothe.
Despite the loss in their first trial, Kearney was not too concerned, as the Eels fielded a young side, and he is expecting that his full-strength side, possibly to be named for their second trial, will perform much better.
”There are a few areas in attack that we need to tweak, but overall I was encouraged by the performance,” Kearney said. ”We fielded a pretty young group in the forwards.”
In light of Reddy’s injury, and given he may not play Rd 1 straight away, Chris Walker, Chris Hicks, Paul Whatuira, Jacob Loko and Ryan Morgan all pressed their claims to play in Reddy’s vacant centre position.
Another potential candidate for the position in Etu Uaisele, suffered an injury, but it is not expected to be anything too serious.
”Etu got a knock early and had to come off, but the others all went OK,” Kearney said.
In a great story also, Eels forward Shane Shackleton made his return in the Eels trial game, and he will undoubtedly get better over the course of the season.
”We just wanted him to get some confidence back, before we increase his game time,” Kearney said after the game.