Eels coach plays down banter from Watmough

PARRAMATTA coach Brad Arthur has had a quiet word to former Manly firebrand Anthony Watmough about controlling his emotions when he comes up against his old teammates in what could be a Friday night firecracker at Pirtek Stadium.

A storm has been brewing since Watmough's provocative "toxic environment" claim about his former seaside club, comments quickly seized upon by new Manly enforcer Willie Mason who predicted his teammates would respond on the field.

With star Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran also reportedly heading to the Eels next year, and other rumours that Arthur, who was an assistant to Geoff Toovey at Manly, would head back there next season, emotions between the traditional arch rivals will be running high.

"A lot of it's tongue in cheek, and Choc's very appreciative of his time at Manly," said Arthur in an attempt to play down the feeling that has been building between the two camps.

"We've had a chat about (how) he just needs to channel his focus to his football team moving forward, especially for this game. Once this game's over and done with, there'll be no more talk about Manly."

Parramatta will find out quickly what life is like without San Francisco 49ers-bound Jarryd Hayne, his spot at fullback taken for this week by Will Hopoate.

The Eels have a new-look backline which includes former Canberra flier Reece Robinson, former Rooster and Titan Brad Takairangi and NRL journeyman Beau Champion.

Halfback Chris Sandow has reportedly dropped his weight to 81kg and is set for a big season.



Pirtek Stadium 6.45pm (AEST)

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