Eels keen on regaining NRL momentum

Matt Encarnacion
Clint Gutherson at Parramatta training on Wednesday

Parramatta skipper Clint Gutherson believes the key to retaining top spot on the NRL ladder will be to forget what got them there in the first place.

The Eels on Wednesday trained for the first time since the competition was suspended by the coronavirus with the club in pole position.

And while round three remains another three weeks away, the Eels have opted to treat May 28 as another season-opener.

"I think it's going to be like round one. You're going to have to build on it. It's going to be scrappy. It's not how you plan it to go," Gutherson said on Wednesday.

"We're going to go out there and try and build that momentum again. Everything we built in the first two weeks is gone now.

"Every team's in the same boat. We're just looking forward to the next couple of weeks to get that rust out and get back into it."

The league last week confirmed it has pencilled in a 20-round season, four less than the traditional 25, with the grand final pushed back until late October.

Should the Eels lift the trophy, it would be their first title in 34 years.

And Gutherson is adamant this year's premiership-winner won't value the title any less simply because of a re-jigged schedule.

"I don't think whoever wins it is going to have an asterisk on their name," he said.

"It's still a 20-round comp, it's four games less, we're still putting in the same work. We're still training the same, there's nothing different.

"I can't see whoever wins the comp is going to cop having an asterisk next to it."

What should give the Eels' chances a serious push is the health of hooker Reed Mahoney, who underwent major foot surgery during the shutdown.

The hooker was initially looking at the end of his season, but could now be back as soon as the competition resumes.

"He was on the (anti-gravity machine) this morning. He's looking a little bit tubby, but that's just little Reedy," Gutherson said.

"He's still got a bit of time there. We don't want to rush him back."