Eels are the dark horse: Benji Marshall - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels are the dark horse: Benji Marshall

Joe Barton 16/02/2011 05:15:53 PM Comments (0)

Wests Tigers star Benji Marshall has labelled Parramatta the "dark horse" of the 2011 NRL season, saying Jarryd Hayne will produce his best football under new coach Stephen Kearney.

Just 12 months ago, the Eels were short-priced favourites to claim the premiership but a horror season saw them miss the finals and cost Daniel Anderson his coaching job.

After winning the Dally M medal in 2009, Hayne wasn't able to replicate the incredible football which lifted the Eels to an unlikely grand final appearance - and was even publicly criticised by Anderson mid-year for his form.

But with less expectations, a new coach and a new attitude, Marshall is wary of the sleeping giant out west.

"I think they'll be the dark horses of the competition," Marshall said.

"I know with Jarryd Hayne at the back of that team, they're a dangerous team.

"He'll be back to his best I'm sure with Stephen Kearney there helping.

"I've seen (Kearney) get the best out of players and I'm sure he'll get the best out of Jarryd Hayne and we'll see a big Parramatta and a great team this year."

Marshall, who has played under Kearney for New Zealand for the past three seasons, believes the rookie coach will instil a tough culture into a talented squad which he believes will reap instant reward.

"I think he's good at relating to players and he knows who needs a kick in the backside and who needs a pat on the back," Marshall added.

"He's trained Parramatta a lot harder than they have in the past and he'll definitely get the best out of the players and provide a culture that gets a lot of respect.

"They'll take pride in their performance every week."

The Tigers will face Parramatta in a trial match at Campbelltown Stadium this Saturday, with Marshall eager to take his place in the line-up.

Like the rest of his high-profile team-mates, Marshall will play just one half against the Eels before an 80-minute hitout against the Roosters in the Foundation Cup a week later.

Widely acknowledged as the game's premier player, reigning Golden Boot winner Marshall is eager to put 2010 behind him and put the Tigers in a strong position in 2011.

"(Winning the Golden Boot) was last season, this is another season, you've still got to go out there and prove yourself every week, for me it's just about playing consistent and doing my job for my team," he said.

"I don't want to let anyone down this year and that's going to be my main focus.

"(At the Tigers) we've got a lot of belief ... and when you've got a team that wants to play for each other they are hard to beat."

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