Penrith are expecting Dylan Brown’s return to five-eighth to give Parramatta more punch in their sold-out Battle of West clash on Friday night.
The Eels abandoned their experiment of playing Brown in the centres following a disappointing 35-4 loss to North Queensland last round to drop out of the top four.
Penrith playmaker Jarome Luai is expecting a strong rebound by Parramatta at BlueBet Stadium, led by Brown.
“His running game, and he’s really dangerous with the ball,” Luai said of his rival No.6.
“He’s figured out this year what he’s good at and the way he’s taken the line on is really dangerous, so if he’s in that six jersey this week I’m sure he will be a big target for us to stop.”
Asked if it was Brown’s best season, Luai said it was “just the confidence he’s playing with and damage he’s causing to other teams … he’s one of the best in the comp at the moment.”
While the Panthers remain unbeaten, they turned in an ugly first-half last round against Gold Coast and trailed 4-0 at the break.
The defending champions made 12 errors and missed 53 tackles but were still able to secure an 18-4 victory.
Luai said while the way they were able to steady showed their resilience, they needed to be better over 80 minutes.
“It’s a long season and we’re all human so it’s probably inevitable we’re going to make mistakes,” the 25-year-old said.
“We didn’t have the best first half there but we showed some resilience and we were pretty happy with the way we were able to turn things around.
“We were really happy with the second half and our leaders got us through that, but hopefully we won’t start like that this round.”
Calling it a clash of the “brotherhood” with many players from the two clubs previously attending the same school, Luai said it was an easy game to get up for.
To add extra spice, the Panthers knocked the Eels out of the finals last year.
“They’re down the road and they’re our brotherhood club so you want to get one up on each other,” Luai said.
“It’s the biggest game for us round-wise – we love playing against them and the crowd does too.
“I’m getting a bit tingly already, I can’t wait.”