Mateo looming as Eels x-factor - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mateo looming as Eels x-factor

By Steve Jancetic 26/08/2009 06:04:26 PM Comments (0)

Feleti Mateo is relishing his role as the ace up coach Daniel Anderson's sleeve in Parramatta's seemingly unstoppable charge to an NRL finals berth.

Mateo has become the Eels' x-factor in their late season surge - the backrower/five-eighth returning from a long-term bicep in last week's thrilling win over Wests Tigers.

The Tongan international feared he would struggle to break back into the red-hot Eels side after going down in the team's round ten loss to Manly.

The finals seemed a long-way off for the Eels at that point of the season, but Mateo said he was ready to make an impact with Parramatta only out of the top eight on points differential with two games remaining.

The team they trail on for and against is Penrith - Friday night's opponents at Parramatta Stadium.

"I can just focus on my running game a bit more and I don't have to worry about ball-playing or organising the team," Mateo said.

"It's a role that I've played well in before and I'm glad to be back.

"I didn't play too many minutes (against Wests Tigers) but while I am out there I just want to give quality for the team."

There was plenty of quality in the offload Mateo came up with to spark the movement which led to Jeff Robson's crucial second half try, that part of an impressive yet brief 17-minute stint.

Mateo played at five-eighth for the opening ten rounds of the season, but seemed to struggle with organising the Eels attack.

Now given a licence to roam as a running lock or second-rower, Mateo looms as an even bigger threat.

Anderson said he would try to get the ball-playing utility more time against Penrith on Friday night as the Eels coach looks to add to an already impressive attacking arsenal featuring the red-hot Jarryd Hayne, Krisnan Inu and boom rookie Daniel Mortimer.

"I do hope for more minutes from him - he blew hard and quickly but we expected it," Anderson said of Mateo's effort against the Tigers.

"I expect him to be a little bit more composed and every bit as enthusiastic.

"His offload to start that try was extremely measured, controlled and very safe.

"We have to play rugby league, but not recklessly."

Friday night's match is shaping as a sellout with less than 3,000 tickets remaining for the western-Sydney showdown.

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