Dyldam Parramatta Eels head coach Brad Arthur says the boys are itching to get out onto the field in Alice Springs, when the side makes its first appearance of 2014 on Saturday night against the Wests Tigers.
The side landed in the Northern Territory yesterday and will train all week leading into the game at the newly developed Anzac Oval.
“That’s been evident the last week at training, everyone’s getting a bit antsy and a bit jittery,” he said.
“The contact is getting a bit harder, everyone’s getting a little bit crankier, so I think they’re ready to play.”
Checking out the conditions at the stadium for the first time, Arthur says he’s impressed with the work the Northern Territory Government’s doing to build rugby league.
“[Anzac Oval] is a great facility, they said they started working on it in November, and the boys were joking that it’s better than what we have at home!”
“We have only been here a day, and we’re looking forward to what will be a productive week.”
Part of the trip includes visiting more than 4,000 school students across 16 different locations around Alice Springs tomorrow, as part of the NRL’s #TackleBullying campaign; and a coaching session with a group of Territory coaches.
“It’s great to get out and help grow the game in schools, and we brought a group of coaches down to Parramatta in the last few weeks which was really good,” he said.
“I think a lot of times you’re better off coaching the coaches too [and not just] small groups of kids, they’re the ones who have to spearhead the knowledge and take it to the kids later.”
Arthur has chosen to bring a team consisting of a large group of forwards, and some young debutants looking to prove themselves.
“Everyone’s trained really well, and there are some impressive young kids here,” he said.
“Without putting too much pressure on them, I want them to step up tomorrow and without doing anything flash, do their job.”
“Saturday night is about taking what we’ve been doing on the training paddock onto the field; the difficult part will be the conditions and the pressure, so concentration has to be high,” he said.
“What we want to get out of this year is when our fans turn up every week, they know exactly what they’re going to get out of the boys.”
And always thinking ahead, Brad says he’s keen to watch the curtain-raiser between Alice Springs and Darwin on Saturday - because you never know where you’ll find talent.
“I’ll definitely be watching, you’ve got to keep your eyes open and there are heaps of good young kids everywhere, so you’ve got to be looking and hopefully you get the right one!”