Eels flexing muscles in trials

Parramatta's most settled pre-season in five years has them poised for a flying start to the NRL season.

The Eels welcomed just three new faces - their least since 2013 - and, in Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman, they have a familiar halves combination to the start their season for just the second time since 2011.

It's allowed coach Brad Arthur to put a heavier focus on conditioning rather than combinations, with the club also playing just one practice match as NRL trials concluded with seven games on Saturday.

The signs were good as the Eels out-played and out-muscled Newcastle in their 26-6 trial win in Maitland.

"I'm happy with where we were physically," Arthur said.

"We haven't had a lot of changeover of players from last year to this year, only a couple of new ones, so we could afford to do a lot more physical work at training."

Bevan French started at fullback for the injured Clint Gutherson and scored twice while Moses and Norman linked nicely in the six-try effort.

Highlighting Parramatta's position, their opening round opponents Penrith suffered a shock 24-10 trial loss to a second-string Canterbury side at Belmore.

The Eels weren't the only of the early-season favourites to show good signs as the competition's heavyweights finalised their preparations.

James Tedesco scored two tries in his first outing as a Sydney Rooster to help them topple Manly 28-26, while fellow superstar recruit Cooper Cronk looked settled in attack.

Anthony Milford got through his first game since his shoulder reconstruction in Brisbane's 26-12 win over the PNG Hunters.

Johnathan Thurston engineered North Queensland's last-minute victory over Melbourne, who were also impressive.

The news wasn't all good for the Cowboys though, with fullback Lachlan Coote (hamstring) and centre Kane Linnett (pectoral) expected to be sent for scans on Monday.

Elsewhere, South Sydney fullback Alex Johnston will be monitored for rib damage after he was hit hard by James Graham in the Rabbitohs' 22-18 Charity Shield win over St George Illawarra.

However, Greg Inglis got through 19 minutes in his return game in the centres.

Cronulla received welcome news on Josh Dugan, with the star recruit cleared of any damage after he copped a knock to his jaw, while fullback Valentine Holmes scored two tries in the Sharks' 24-12 win over the Wests Tigers.

Gold Coast outside back Brendan Elliot is also in doubt for round one after he injured his ankle in the Titans' 20-14 loss to the Warriors.