True Blue Jamie Soward casts his eyes over the Parramatta Eels veteran who is set for a long-awaited NRL debut after proving himself in The Knock-On NSW Cup throughout the 2020 season.
Parramatta prop Makahesi Makatoa will make his NRL debut this weekend at the ripe old age of 28 as the Eels take on the in-form Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in a must-win Round 22 clash.
The Eels still have a loose grip on fourth position on the NRL ladder, although they face an uphill run into the finals with games against North Queensland Cowboys, Melbourne Storm and Penrith Panthers to round out their regular season campaign.
With heavy losses against the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs coming in consecutive weeks, coach Brad Arthur has called for effort heading into the pointy end of the season and that’s something Makatoa brings in spades.
Makatoa has helped lead the Eels to second place on The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup ladder before the season was abandoned earlier this week. He led the competition in running metres (2,273), total runs (218), post contact metres (963), decoy runs (101) and was ninth in tackles made (372).
In the last game before the season was paused, Makatoa was best on ground against Mounties as the Eels came away with a 22-6 victory, led by Makatoa’s 20 hit ups, 250 running metres, 110 post contact metres, two tackle busts and 20 tackles.
“I got a chance to see him earlier in the year in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, I thought he was a real platform for his halves to play off the back of.
“He gets through plenty of carries, plenty of work through the middle and he’s very good defensively.
“With Parramatta struggling at the moment, they’re looking for a point of difference for their attack in the middle third and for me, he brings that.
“It’s probably been a long time waiting, for this opportunity in a tough forward pack for Parramatta. The games we got to see earlier, I thought he was a standout for the NSW Cup team.”