With week one of the NRL season just around the corner, the Sea Eagles are gearing up for their round one clash against the Parramatta Eels in strong fashion.
One player, who has more experiences than many at Pirtek Stadium, is none other than Sea Eagles’ new ‘old’ boy, Willie Mason. ‘Big Willie’ has been impressed with both his and the team’s pre-season form and is looking forward to running out in both round one and as well as at his home debut at Brookvale Oval on March 14.
“Coming to a new Club like Manly that has such high standards in the way they play and their intensity, really suits my game and I don’t think that I’ve really missed a beat in the trail games,” Mason said.
“I think we held our own against the Roosters for the first 30 to 40 minutes, until we made some changes and slipped up with our bench,” Mason said.
“That’s all trial games are about, getting through those games uninjured and getting your legs in the motion for round one. Obviously I was glad to just get through the game regardless of the scores but you don’t get go out there to win trials, you just go out there to build combinations.”
Despite having plenty of confidence in Manly getting the job done at Parramatta on Friday, Mason expects they will need to overcome a capacity and vocal crowd out west.
“Whatever team you’re with when you run out there on a Friday night and it’s the first round, its going to be packed.”
“It’s going to be big night, especially with ‘Choc’ Watmough and myself personally. I have to look after what I do.”
Mason also stressed the importance of keeping a level head before round one urging the team to be prepared.
“It comes along real quick. Soon we will be running at Pirtek Stadium ready to go to war,” Mason said.
Having played at a very successful level for a long time, Mason loves being at Club such as Manly that prides itself on success. He is increasingly excited about his first game at Brookie Oval this time playing with the Sea Eagles after only notching two-to-three wins in his 15-year career.
“It’s hard to come down to Manly and grab two points and go home on that bus without being bashed, bruised or beaten. It’s a great place to play when you’re a player, it’s probably one of the worst places to play if your not.”
Mason also expects that the strong attitude installed at Manly will rub of on other players and anticipates that other new boy Feliti Mateo, to reach new levels.
“A club like Manly can really drive him (Mateo) and get him to that next level where people know he should be. He’s definitely one of the most talented forwards of the modern era and to have him in the side just adds another dimension”.
More than anything though, Mason wants to “just get out there and win,” using round one as a catalyst for the rest of the season.
Along with that he’s even hoping for a cheeky try for himself.
“That would be great actually! Get me one try, I’d be happy with that,” Mason smiled.