Corey Norman will miss this Friday's game with the Dragons.
Corey Norman will miss this Friday's game with the Dragons. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Norman "in second gear” against the Dragons, says coach

BRAD Arthur has revealed a detail about star halfback Corey Norman's hamstring injury that makes his man-of-the-match performance against the Dragons plain frightening.

After starting the season on fire, Norman will miss Parramatta's Friday night clash with the Titans due to a hamstring strain that went undetected until the Eels' team was announced on Tuesday.

For the second straight week, the star No.7 was exceptional as he pulled the strings for the Eels on the way to a 34-16 victory over round one's most impressive outfit.

Speaking to Fox Sports, Arthur put that performance in perspective, revealing Norman played in second gear for the last 55 minutes after feeling his hamstring go.

"It's just a strain that he did 15 minutes before half-time on the weekend," Arthur said.

"In that first 25 or 30 minutes he was playing really fast into the line and just a little twinge there and he removed himself a little bit from the game and just directed us around the park.

"With the five day turnaround we just thought it was too tight and too much of a stretch to put him at risk in round three."

Sitting atop the ladder after two impressive wins, the Eels have the luxury of leaving out their best player, with Arthur putting his trust in the halves combination that closed out 2016 as veteran Jeff Robson comes into the side to partner five-eighth Clint Gutherson.

"Robbo and Gutho played the last eight games together at the back end of last season so we're more than comfortable that we'll get the job done with those two," Arthur said.

Norman was absent during that stretch due to an NRL imposed suspension for a string of off-field incidents that included a conviction for drug possession at the Star casino and a sex tape scandal.

The Eels kept the faith in Norman as the man to build their future around, re-signing him until 2019, and his early form this season backs that call.

"We've done a lot of tough work with him and I think he'd probably say the same I reckon with me," Arthur said.

"We've persisted and persisted with him because we know the talent that he can be and the thing is, he's still got a lot of upside in him, he's only going to get better for us.

"He's really enjoying that he's got ownership of the team, he wants to take it in the right direction and he's really matured with his game management and his game control and his patience."

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