AAP Rugby

Mahoney juggles defensive workload at Eels

By AAP Newswire

Reed Mahoney's body tells him he can keep tackling, but his brain tells him he shouldn't have to.

Mahoney, in just his first full NRL season, topped the NRL with 1052 tackles this year for Parramatta. That's one in every seven made by the Eels.

In doing so, the 21-year-old hooker because the youngest player to be the NRL's leading tacklier since records began being kept by Fox Sports Stats in 1999.

"I do pride myself on it," Mahoney told AAP.

"It's something I'm still learning in the game, not having to do everything in the defensive line. And being smarter.

"In the past few weeks I've done that, I've limited my tackles a bit. But some days you can't help but make 60 tackles if that's what you need to do.

"Every No.9 in the game people always try and run at the nines. I've just got to do my best to put myself in a good position and make it effective."

Chances are, Mahoney will have to make another 60 in Sunday's elimination final against Brisbane.

And they'll have to be good ones too. The Broncos' middle of Payne Haas, Matt Lodge and Tevita Pangai have made more metres than any other starting three this year.

But after enduring the defensive workload in his first full season, Mahoney insists his body is ready for finals football following a few games of just 60 minutes.

"I've felt (sore) at times in the year," he admitted.

"But Brad (Arthur) and the coaching staff have done a good job of looking after me and letting me able to talk to him when I am a bit sore on training days.

"I feel really good this week and went back to playing 80 minutes the last couple of weeks."

For that, Mahoney credits his pre-season.

Thrown into the deep end as Kaysa Pritchard battled injury, Mahoney knew he had the chance to play 80 minutes after starting just three times in his rookie year.

"I knew it was going to be a big season and I wanted to be that hooker who played 80 minutes every week," he said.

"I made sure I worked as hard as I could.

"I was in the gym more than anyone else, doing a lot of my gym sessions. Conditioning wise I made sure I was up there."

NRL'S YOUNGEST LEADING TACKLERS

Reed Mahoney - aged 21 (2019)

Cameron McInnes - 23 (2017)

Richard Swain - 25 (2000)

Nathan Hindmarsh - 25 (2004)

Alan Tongue - 26 (2006)

* Since Fox Sports Stats records began in 1999.