Mahoney finds his fit in middle for Eels

·2-min read

It took Reed Mahoney two years in the NRL at Parramatta to find the confidence to know when to run - along with a little help from Andrew Johns.

Mahoney has long been spoken about as one of the game's rising stars since his debut as a 20-year-old in June 2018.

And in 2021 he's showing why.

The Queenslander has arguably been the Eels' best in their winning start to the season, sitting second in the Dally M count having claimed five of a possible six points.

He's run more in the past fortnight than at any other point, darting out of dummy-half 10 times in the first two weeks.

In round one he topped 100 metres for the first time in his career when he broke the game open against Brisbane, and was man of the match against Melbourne last week.

And to go with all that he's also put Junior Paulo over for two tries, compared with three try-assists all of last year and four in 2019.

"I understand my role more as a as a dummy-half now," Mahoney said.

"Just understanding when to run and when to kick and when to pass.

"I've done a lot of work and you know, with the coaches and Joey in the off-season.

"He gave me opportunities to take them and allowed my halves to give me that confidence to play and run the football. We're all on the same page."

Mahoney's evolution has also continued in his kicking game, adding a legitimate third option with the boot to the Eels' attack with two in each of the first two games.

But he credits it mostly to his focus on fitness, while still having bulked up after entering first grade weighing less than 80kg while playing in the middle.

The 22-year-old has made a point to tell Brad Arthur he wants to remain an 80-minute hooker, after his workload was managed last year before the finals.

The Eels also purchased a number of back-up options for this season, including Joey Lussick and Nathanial Roache over the summer.

"I've spoken to Brad about that before and I want to be an 80-minute hooker, and I want to prove that I am," Mahoney said.

"We've got Will (Smith) on the bench there if I need a break but. Yeah, I'm definitely feeling good.

"Getting stronger in the gym, getting my body physically right has obviously helped too.

"It's obviously taken a couple years for that, I was obviously coming to the NRL pretty scrawny and skinny so there's been plenty of gym sessions."