Mateo a lock for No.13 at Parramatta - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mateo a lock for No.13 at Parramatta

By Steve Jancetic 12/02/2009 07:22:02 PM Comments (0)

One thing incoming coach Daniel Anderson knew before he'd even arrived at Parramatta was that Feleti Mateo was a damn good five-eighth.

One thing he's learned in the three months since is that he's an even better lock.

And so it is that Mateo, the spark behind the few bright spots in Parramatta's dismal 2008 campaign, will move back to the pack in 2009.

"We'd spoken in November and he was keen to continue in the No.6 and he was training before Christmas accordingly," Anderson said.

"But as we've done more skills sessions it's become more apparent that whilst he's a very, very good player at the six, we both had a chat about it and we both feel that we got more impact from him at loose forward.

"He's an intelligent young man and it didn't take a lot from me to go `I like you at six, but I like you a little bit more at 13'.

"He said he was happy with doing that as well.

"It was more of a positional agreement so that's where he's hopefully going to be starting the year."

After several brilliant displays at lock during Parramatta's run to the preliminary final in 2007, the Tongan international was moved to five-eighth out of necessity by former coach Michael Hagan after regular playmaker Tim Smith was shown the door early in the season.

While Mateo and Brett Finch showed patches of good form, the playmaking responsibilities didn't seem to sit well with Mateo, making Anderson's decision to shift him back to lock an easier one.

Kris Keating was believed to be the front-runner for the now vacant No.6 jersey, but Anderson surprised last week when he admitted former Test winger Jarryd Hayne was also a five-eighth contender.

Keating will team up with Jeff Robson in the halves for Saturday's trial against Penrith in Griffith in an Eels side featuring just a handful of established first-graders.

Anderson conceded the fight was on for berths in the side for the regular season opener against the Warriors.

"We are battling for positions," Anderson said.

"Yes, Brett Finch is going to start at halfback, Nathan Hindmarsh is going to start the season in the forwards and so is Nathan Cayless and pretty much the rest are fairly open positions."

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