Ken Edwards

Whilst the side they were playing against may not have been the biggest opposition, given the amount of NSW Cup and NYC players the Knights were playing, it is a win that the Parramatta Eels will take, winning 46-10 at their trial in Armidale.

On the back of a disappointing 2012 season, the one message that Stuart has drilled home to his players, is to believe in themselves and believe that they can make it to the finals in September.

“I think the players and everyone else just gets sick of the off-season,” Stuart said.

“We all wanted to see a game of football.”

Another positive for the Eels was that the side suffered no injuries and it gave players the chance to form some combinations, ones that will give Stuart things to consider for their next trial.

“It’s only a trial and I’m most pleased we got through without any injuries, and also managed to strike up a few combinations,” said Stuart.

With the Eels side boasting several experienced players, they all played for different reasons – with captain for this clash Reni Maitua unable to play in the club’s next 2 trials due to suspension, whilst other players like Luke Kelly lacked match fitness, given injuries from last year.

“Those players just needed a bit more footy because they’ve had injuries, or, in Reni’s case, can’t play our next trials because of suspension,” Stuart said.

“The front-rowers needed some game time and they should’ve done well because they’re NRL players against a number of guys who’ve never played grade before.”

It was an unheralded name who stepped up to the plate, though, as Eels recruit Ken Edwards was awarded the Roy Masters Medal by the club for his solid performance, scoring 2 tries and causing havoc for the Knights.

“It was good, man. It’s been a long pre-season,” said Edwards.

“It’s finally good to get out there on the field with the boys.”

“I think I was a bit lucky. Our two front rowers Taulima and Nela (Taniela Lasalo) really led the way and I was just lucky to be on the back of their work.”

With the performance that Edwards put in, he will no doubt be giving Ricky Stuart some selection headaches, as Edwards jostles for a possible bench spot with other Eels back-rowers – though the recruit knows that improvement in his own game is still needed.

“A lot of fitness – I was blown out there, so I hope it didn’t look as bad as it felt,” said Edwards.

“We’ll get a lot out of today going into our next trial against the Tigers, so we’ll get a lot out of today.”

With many positives to take from the game despite it being only a trial, Edwards pinpointed the side’s defence as a catalyst for the victory.

“I think it was our defence that really led the way and early on we really completed our sets, so I think that set the platform,” said Edwards.

As Edwards pushes for a spot, he is just enjoying the game of rugby league again, after being out of the frame for a few years.

“Yeah, 100%. This is my first time back in rugby league for a couple of years and I’ve loved it under Ricky and the coaching staff, and I’m looking forward to a big season,” said Edwards.

With instructions from coach Ricky Stuart to go hard at each other at training and clamping down on the opposition in defence, Eels hooker for this clash, Nathan Smith, thought the side did just that.

“Everything we’ve been doing is really physical and technique based and we’ve been getting stuck into each other at training,” Smith said.

“Last year we were a bit poor in that aspect and we needed to really get our bodies in front and dominate the ruck and the edges.

“We really needed to dominate the whole game defensively and I think we did that.

“It’s only very early, the first trial – but the things we didn’t get right last year seem to be fixing themselves and we’re on the right track.”

By ricky

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