Parramatta whiz-kid Dylan Brown is ready to step up in the absence of Mitchell Moses and keep high-flying Eels atop the NRL ladder when they play North Queensland on Friday.
Scans have shown Moses' calf injury to be less serious than first feared but the classy halfback is still expected to be sidelined for two to three games.
Brad Arthur is unfazed, the coach revealing how Brown revelled when asked to deputise as chief playmaker after Moses first injured himself during the competition's two-month shutdown because of coronavirus.
With mentor Andrew Johns barking encouragement from outside the fence at NRL training, five-eighth Brown began to develop his voice and build confidence over those few weeks without Moses to rely on.
"That was actually a bit of a challenge," Brown said on Tuesday.
"I know it was only at training but we train how we play.
"I sort of felt a responsibility there, the boys were responding to me which was good.
"I gained some trust throughout this year.
"That was actually quite helpful."
Brown, who turned 20 last week, said being exposed to the pressure of leading the Eels around the training paddock had done wonders for his self-belief.
However, without Moses on the field he believes the Eels will be lacking in one area.
"Kicking. In my personal opinion he's the best kicker in the NRL," Brown said.
"He does help us get out if we're stuck in our half he can get us out.
Arthur has named Jai Field to make his club debut for the Eels alongside Brown, while Jaeman Salmon and Will Smith missed the cut.
Brad Takairangi, who moved into the halves to partner Brown when Moses was injured against Canberra, will remain on the bench.