Eels forward Lee Mossop is ready for NRL

Lee Mossop turned down a contract with Canterbury three years ago but the Parramatta recruit believes a stint at Wigan under Michael Maguire has him ready for the NRL.

Mossop, who will miss the first nine weeks of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery last month, transformed from a hot-and-cold back-rower into Wigan's leading prop under Maguire's watch. He gave up the opportunity to join the Bulldogs in 2011 to play under Maguire and help Wigan return to the top of the English Super League.

The 25-year-old insists he made the right decision at the time and believes he comes to the NRL at the peak of his powers.

''I had the contract and the pen in front of me and I nearly signed with the Bulldogs back then,'' Mossop said. ''It was just something at the back of my mind that stopped me. Madge [Maguire] had just come to Wigan and brought freshness to the club. Previously I had a coach where I'd get man of the match one week, but because I was young the next week I'd be dropped. But Madge came over and said, 'If you play well you'll play every week.' He wanted me to stay and in hindsight it was the best decision because I won three trophies with Wigan.

''When I turned the Bulldogs down, I knew I still wanted to come to the NRL at some point. So I asked the coach and the owner at Wigan to put in a clause in my contract that if there was still interest from the NRL, they'd let me pursue that. Parramatta and a few other clubs showed interest at the perfect time.''

A lot has changed since the English international knocked back interest from three other NRL clubs to sign with Parramatta in April last year. He was meant to fly over with fellow Englishman Gareth Hock to play under Ricky Stuart but neither Hock nor Stuart was at Parramatta for Mossop's first day of training on Wednesday.

Personal reasons saw Hock renege on his deal and stay in England, while Stuart has since walked out on the Eels to take up a job with his former club, Canberra, for family reasons. While Mossop admitted he was frustrated by Stuart's defection, he believes new coach Brad Arthur is similar to Maguire and could have the same impact at Parramatta to what Maguire has had at South Sydney. ''At the time I was frustrated because Ricky had a big influence on me coming to Parramatta,'' Mossop said. ''He was a coach I had a lot of respect for, so when I found out he was leaving it was a bit frustrating. But looking at it now, it's probably perfect with a new coach coming in because it puts me on the same level as all the other blokes.

''I watched Brad Arthur coach for the first time on Wednesday and I can't wait to be coached by him. Gareth Widdop and a couple of the English blokes spoke very highly of him. I see real resemblances between Brad and Madge. There's something similar about Parramatta to when Madge came to Wigan. We had that golden era with plenty of silverware that was followed by a drought. But Madge brought a freshness and everyone couldn't wait to play. It's something Parramatta reminded me of.''

Mossop was married in England on December 21 and underwent surgery on a shoulder injury two days later. He dislocated the shoulder in the 2011 Challenge Cup final and has since been playing restricted. ''I could have done the same this season but in the back of my mind I felt I wasn't playing to my full potential,'' Mossop said.

''This was a fresh start coming to Parramatta and turning over a new leaf. I wanted to impress my new teammates and coaching staff, so going in at 80 per cent of my potential wasn't an option. I sat down with Brad, Daniel [Anderson] and Pete Nolan. We all had a good chat about it.

''I've signed here for three years but the plan is to extend that and be here for the long run. We all agreed the best way going forward was to get it sorted and get the best out of me for at least three years, hopefully more.

''They signed me at a time when they didn't know about the injury, but I knew that was only 80 per cent of my potential.''

Parramatta recruit Lee Mossop. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Parramatta recruit Lee Mossop. Photo: Anthony Johnson

This story Eels forward Lee Mossop is ready for NRL first appeared on Parramatta Sun.


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