Former Jet could have Sea Eagles flying high
Ipswich co-coach Ben Walker says he believes his former Queensland Cup-winning hooker Matt Parcell can form an alliance with Daly Cherry-Evans capable of taking Manly all the way to an NRL premiership this year.
It's a huge rap to put on a 23-year-old yet to play an NRL game.
But having coached him and seen his commitment and dedication, Walker said he hoped rookie Manly coach Trent Barrett takes a punt on the youngster and hands him the starting No.9 jumper against a monster Bulldogs pack in round one.
"Matty and DCE (Cherry-Evans) could do what JT (Johnathan Thurston) and Jake Granville did with the Cowboys last year," said Walker, who played 179 NRL games, and spent a season with Manly in 2003.
Walker said he rated Parcell so highly he believed he would also take over from Melbourne's Cameron Smith as Queensland and possibly Australia's next hooker.
"There's a few to pick from (including Granville), but there is nobody faster and none more dangerous than Matty," he said.
Walker said Parcell was a "special player" who scored big tries and made the big plays because he was fitter and faster than his rivals, and had an awareness that allowed him to be in the right position at the right time.
With long-serving hooker Matt Ballin moving on to battle Robbie Farah for the No.9 jumper at Wests Tigers, Manly recruited PNG international Apisai Koroisau and Parcell to join Jayden Hodges in a hooker/halves rotation group.
But with Hodges likely to miss the season after rupturing his ACL during the Auckland Nines, it has come down to a race between Apasai, who played in South Sydney's grand final win two years ago, or a kid from Ipswich who starred for the Jets in their Queensland Cup win last year.
Parcell has certainly shown he could tick all the right boxes.
He has already shown Barrett his blistering speed as the fastest player over 40 metres (4.8 seconds) at the club, and his form at the Nines would have only re-affirmed his claims to make his NRL debut next month.
Manly, meanwhile, issued a brief statement concerning an incident involving Koroisau in Bondi in December, which could potentially affect his selection.
He has been charged with entering a property without consent of the owners on December 20, and will appear in Waverley Local Court on February 17.
The club said it had reported the incident to the NRL's Integrity Unit.
"The incident followed some extenuating circumstances in Apisai's personal life," the statement said.
"The Sea Eagles are providing Apisai with the necessary support during this time and will not be making any further comment."