‘He challenged me’: Asi’s chat with Eels boss Arthur

Jasper Bruce |

A match-clincher against the Cowboys, Daejarn Asi is determined to back up for Parramatta.
A match-clincher against the Cowboys, Daejarn Asi is determined to back up for Parramatta.

Daejarn Asi credits a heart-to-heart chat with coach Brad Arthur for inspiring his return to Parramatta’s NRL side.

And, as he eyes an extended stint replacing Mitch Moses, the Eels’ back-up five-eighth has warned last week’s win over North Queensland marked “just the beginning” of his new combination with Dylan Brown.

Asi was a surprise omission from the Eels’ team sheet the first week after Moses went down with a long-term foot injury, beaten to a spot in the halves by rookie Blaize Talagi.

Asi said it was bittersweet to have been overlooked in favour of Talagi, who had played only one NRL game prior to that round-four call-up to the halves.

“It’s a tough one, I was really happy for Blaize,” Asi told AAP.

“I just had to go out and prove what I could do (in reserve grade).”

Despite snaring nine games in the halves last season, it took the Eels suffering back-to-back losses with Talagi at five-eighth for Asi to earn a recall this time around.

Once given his chance, the 23-year-old scored what proved the decisive try and field goal in last week’s vital win over North Queensland.

He credited an honest chat with Arthur for spurring him on the path back to the NRL.

“He challenged me,” Asi said.

“It was just a personal conversation, he came up to me and said what I need to be working on and what I need to do to get back in the team.

“I felt like I wasn’t at my best in the first couple of weeks. 

“I just had to focus on what I was good at and focus on my effort areas and he said, through that, I’ll work my way into the team.

“That’s what got me here in the end.”

Asi impressed Arthur in the win over the Cowboys and has held his spot for Friday night’s clash against the Dolphins in Darwin.

The Eels are hopeful Moses’ injury may only sideline him for a total of eight weeks but that would still leave Asi with as many as four more games alongside Brown.

Asi’s focus is giving Brown the time and space to run the football, and believed the pair’s chemistry would only grow following the Cowboys win.

“It’s just the beginning,” Asi said.

“Hopefully for myself, I can keep building on those performances and keep dialling in, keep working on my effort plays.

“(Brown) is an elite ball-runner so my job is to organise the middle and then let Dylan do what he does best.

“I love playing with him. He makes my job a lot easier and hopefully I can make his job a lot easier.”