Young Eel Mannah relishing Cayless role - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Young Eel Mannah relishing Cayless role

By Ian McCullough 14/08/2009 09:31:11 PM Comments (0)

He may be the baby of an in-form Parramatta forward pack but the performances of Tim Mannah in his debut NRL season have proved he's very much an old head on young shoulders.

Eels coach Daniel Anderson has used the 21-year-old mostly from the bench this season, but on Saturday he will be wearing the No.8 jersey usually filled by skipper Nathan Cayless as Parramatta look to record a fifth successive win when they take on the Warriors.

For Mannah, deputising for the player he grew up idolising is a significant moment in his short career and he admitted his biggest fear was letting down Cayless, who is sidelined with a calf injury, in a game the Eels must win to keep their season alive.

"I made my debut against the Warriors and I was lucky enough to play alongside Nathan and against Steve Price, the two players that I admired most as a kid and getting the chance to be a starting prop for Parramatta is something that means a lot to me," Mannah told AAP.

"The (14th-placed) Warriors are definitely in a false position on the ladder and any thought of underestimating them is out of the question, if I start doing that then I am in danger of letting myself, the team and Nathan down."

With Cayless out, Mannah and Fuifui Moimoi will be the cornerstones of the Eels' go-forward and, like the rest of the NRL world, Mannah has been hugely impressed with the recent displays from the big Tongan.

"Fui is awesome to play alongside, especially when you run after him when he has scattered the defence," he said.

"The way he is playing at the moment, he makes it so much easier for all of us and I am glad I am on his team and not trying to stop him."

While Jarryd Hayne and Daniel Mortimer have been receiving the plaudits for the Eels' recent success, much of it has been down to the platform provided by their forwards' offloading abilities.

Mannah said the main reason for the team's improvement in this area has been Anderson's insistence on playing without fear.

"Ando has told us to stop playing scared," he said. "Earlier in the season we were scared to try things and make a mistake but thinking like that saw us making more mistakes.

"Since we have been throwing it around we have made less mistakes and the results have been good."

The influence of Cayless has been instrumental in Mannah's development but he is hoping to take advantage of his absence on Saturday and break his try-scoring duck.

This would leave the skipper as the only player in the team without a four-pointer to his name in 2009 and firmly in danger of the dreaded end-of-season nudie run.

"It has been great for me playing and training alongside Nathan, he has been a bit of a mentor to me, always offering me advice, giving me tips and making me into a better player," Mannah said.

"We are both sitting on a duck egg but there are four games to go to break it, the nudie is always in the back of the mind, but I am trying my best not to think about it - Nathan can do it alone!"

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