Brad Arthur is backing whiz kid Dylan Brown to step up in Mitch Moses’ absence and keep high-flying Parramatta atop the NRL ladder.
Scans have shown Moses’ calf injury to be less serious than first feared but the classy halfback is still expected to be sidelined for two or three games.
But Arthur is unfazed, the coach revealing how Brown revelled when asked to deputise as chief playmaker after Moses first injured himself during the competition’s two-month shutdown because of coronavirus.
“Dylan got an opportunity during the COVID period, when Mitch went down, to steer the team around and take control and it was a really good learning process for him and the boys liked what they saw from him,” Arthur told NRL 360.
“And I think that’s helped with his initial early form this year because he’s stepped up and been more involved and got into the game more.”
Brown only turned 20 last week and Arthur said being exposed to the pressure of leading the Eels around the training paddock had done wonders for the youngster’s confidence.
“It builds qualities – he’s a very good defender for a half and the kid is tough and he competes very hard and he’s just really calm and composed in a number of ways,” Arthur said.
“You know he can handle the pressure.”
Integral to Parramatta’s surge into outright top spot with six wins from seven rounds, Moses left Bankwest Stadium on crutches last Saturday night after hurting himself in the opening half of the Eels’ thrilling golden-point win over Canberra.
Arthur expected the star playmaker to be sidelined for some time until receiving the scan results on Monday.
“Mitch is probably around that two-to-three-week mark. It’s more around scar tissue from a previous injury he’s had there in the COVID period,” Arthur said.
“So it’s not as bad as we first might have expected and it’s just a matter of a bit of time (recovering) now. The signs were pretty good today.”
The coach is carefully weighing up whether to retain Brad Takairangi, who moved into the halves to partner Brown when Moses was injured against Canberra, or promote either Will Smith, Jaeman Salmon or Jai Field for Friday night’s clash with North Queensland.
“We’ve got a few options there and, whoever comes in, gets a really good opportunity,” he said.