Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur says this Friday night's game against the Bulldogs could be the most important of the year.
“It’s a really important game, every game is important for us, but off the back of three wins we are starting to build some momentum,” Arthur said.
“We’re excited about getting the opportunity to play in front of a big crowd but to also test ourselves this week.”
With five teams in the NRL competition tied on 26 points, a victory in the Round 23 clash tomorrow will grant the winning side a spot inside the top 8.
Parramatta are coming into the game with three wins, while the Bulldogs haven’t recorded a victory since round 18, so the stakes couldn’t be higher for both teams looking to play finals football.
“We haven’t focused too much on the opposition, and I wouldn’t call it a slide; they’ve probably lucked out a couple of times and you can never keep a really good side down for too long,” Arthur said.
“It’s probably a danger game in terms of when we’re meeting them, I’d prefer to be meeting them off the back of a couple of wins. But if we want to be any good and advance any further, then we need to beat everyone when they’re at their best.”
The Dogs forward pack is amongst the biggest in the game, and Arthur says that if his side was able to aim up against them in Round 14, then they should be able to compete again.
“It is going to be a good test because their forward pack has probably come under a bit of fire over the last couple of weeks and they’ll be looking to restore some pride,” Arthur said.
“I think our forwards aimed up against Souths, [and] we aimed up against Penrith who are a strong pack, and the last time we played the Dogs I think our forwards were the difference that day.”
With finals football on the radar for the Eels, Arthur says that the team is still focused on taking it week-by-week in preparation.
“It’s probably been a while since they’ve been in a position to control their own destiny and it’s up to us now what we get out of this season,” Arthur said.
“They are excited to be around each other, they are excited to be at training, and they are excited to test themselves tomorrow night.”
The Eels' Round 23 match against the Bulldogs kicks off at 7.45pm on Friday night at ANZ Stadium as they vye for the annual Bandaged Bear Cup. Click through for all the game day information, including where you can see the Under 20s side play on Sunday!