He is one of the more unheralded names in the Parramatta Eels side, but he made his mark on the team in 2010, proving to be one of their best in an otherwise poor season.

For Justin Horo, life is perfect. He’s playing for the footy team he watched growing up, and under Stephen Kearney, the new Eels coach, he is all but set to be gifted with a starting spot not only based on last year’s form, but based on his work ethic which has impressed Kearney.

Horo can say that he has a different relationship with Stephen Kearney then most others, as the young Kiwi grew up watching Kearney play during his time in the NRL, in which Kearney single-handedly tormented opposition defences.

“I used to watch (Kearney) as a kid and I was always a big fan, so this is pretty special,” says the 24-year-old forward.

“To have someone like that coaching me is awesome, I mean … he played with my dad!

“That’s not something that happens every day.

“I haven’t really talked about him with dad yet, I probably just want to first of all just take him on as a coach rather than as dad’s mate.”

Horo, who only made his start in Round 3 of the 2010 season soldiered on, and over the course of the year, he only got better and better proving that he has the mettle to make Eels fans forget about the already departed Feleti Mateo.

After being awarded with a new three-year contract by the Eels, Horo is determined to repay their faith and put in the hard yards both on the training paddock and during games, as he hopes he can contribute to the Eels having a better season in 2011.

“By giving me a three-year deal they showed that they have confidence in me, confidence that they can depend on me,” he added.

“I’ve been on one-year contracts for the past three or four years, so I just want to prove them right and prove that they did a good job by signing me.”

Horo, a second-rower/lock hits the ball up hard and with speed, and can quite often produce a crafty offload like he did on several occasions throughout 2010.

He was a mainstay of the Eels 2010 pack, but he has an ominous warning for the other NRL teams. Horo says that he’s faster, fitter, stronger and feels better than ever heading into 2011.

“I’m definitely stronger than I was last year, after this pre-season we’ve had,” he said.

“I couldn’t really point out anything specific, or any big weights I’ve done, but I just know because I feel in my body that I’m getting stronger and fitter.”

By ricky

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