Moses closing in on Eels NRL return

Mitchell Moses could return for ladder leaders Parramatta's NRL trip to Manly this week.
Mitchell Moses could return for ladder leaders Parramatta's NRL trip to Manly this week.

They have won eight of nine games to top the NRL table, and Parramatta are set to get even more dangerous with Mitchell Moses close to returning from injury.

The Eels extended their run as NRL pacesetters to an eighth straight week after holding on for a scrappy 10-4 win over Newcastle on Sunday.

But in a dire warning for freefalling Manly, Eels coach Brad Arthur declared Moses a chance of coming back from his calf problem for their clash this week.

"Mitch might be right next week," Arthur said.

"But we'll have to worry about that on Tuesday. He'll probably get named on the 21 and we'll see where we go from there."

The Eels sit one point ahead of Penrith at the top of the ladder, with Melbourne a further point back in third, and will be expected to make short work of a Sea Eagles side that have dropped three in a row.

But not even their lofty position on the table would tempt Arthur to be conservative with their chief playmaker.

"They want to play," he said. "They train hard all pre-season. They had a fair period of time off and they just want to play. That's what they're here for.

"If Mitch is not right, we won't play him. But if he's right and he wants to play, we'll see what happens. We're certainly not going to rush him though."

The Eels struggled to impose their authority at McDonald Jones Stadium, but defended stoutly enough to limit Newcastle to just one try from dummy-half.

In another ominous sign for their premiership rivals, the ugly affair prompted Arthur to reveal his team have so far put little work into their attack.

"Our squad's maturing, trusting each other, working hard for each other. We've put a fair bit of time into it in the pre-season. It was a real big focus," he said.

"We haven't done much attack this week.

"We haven't done much attack pretty much all year."

The Eels may have to face the Sea Eagles without Stefano Utoikamanu, though, after the rookie forward was seen hugging family and friends over the fence at fulltime.

It is believed to be a breach of the sport's COVID-19 protocols, which have been tightened across the league following the recent outbreak in Victoria.

NRL authorities will be looking into the matter on Monday.

"I think the club's talked to him about it. It's just reaction. He's excited, he's making his debut. I won't hold it against him," Arthur said.

Australian Associated Press