Keating loves life as Eels' five-eighth - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Keating loves life as Eels' five-eighth

By Ian McCullough 01/05/2010 12:28:00 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta five-eighth Kris Keating has warned the rest of the NRL his burgeoning halfback partnership with fellow young gun Daniel Mortimer is getting better with each game.

Last year's beaten grand finalists have had a slow start to the season, losing four of their first five games but have won their last three after coach Daniel Anderson moved Jeff Robson to hooker and paired Keating and Mortimer in the halves.

And 21-year-old Keating, who enjoyed his best game of his short career and scored his first try of the year in Friday's 26-10 victory over Canterbury, said he and Mortimer are revelling in the responsibility of guiding the team around the field.

"We played a bit together in the 20s but I haven't played with Morts until recently for a year or two, so we are just starting to get a combination going and it is getting better each week," Keating told AAP following the victory, which lifted the Eels inside the competition's top eight for the first time this season.

Keating sat out a large chunk of last season with a broken jaw and missed the Eels' fairytale run to the grand final, and admitted it was a tough time watching from the sidelines.

Not even Eels chief executive's decision to temporarily suspend negotiations with off-contract players such as Keating has the playmaker worried, instead he's feeling happier with his situation now that he is playing in the No.6 shirt.

"I have played halfback and hooker in the past, but really five-eighth is where I want to play, it is the position I grew up playing and I hope I can stay there and be part of the long-term future of this club," he said.

"I am off contract at the end of the year, but it is not a distraction to be honest, I am just happy to be injury-free and playing in a winning team, the rest will take care of itself."

Another of the Eels' young brigade, prop Tim Mannah, paid tribute to the side's old guard with veterans Nathan Hindmarsh, Luke Burt and Timana Tahu all starring in Parramatta's sixth win in their last seven meetings with their bitter western Sydney rivals.

And the 21-year-old said the 11-0 defeat at lowly Cronulla in round four was the wake-up call the side needed.

"Our defence was great ... and that is down to attitude and I guess for some reason earlier this season our attitude was perhaps not as good as it should be," Mannah told AAP.

"I don't know why that was, but the coach and players like Hindy, Luke Burt and Nathan Cayless told us not to panic and not to pay too much attention to what was being written in the papers and things will get better.

"It is too early in the season to be getting carried away but we are feeling very confident at the moment, and when we are a confident side we are a very good side."

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