Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur is looking for an improved performance from the Blue and Gold this week as they go head to head with the 2014 reigning premiers when they take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Pirtek Stadium on Friday 27 March.
Arthur knows that his playing squad were disappointed with their performance against the Warriors, and after naming the same 1-17 to take the field against the Rabbitohs this weekend, Arthur knows the Blue and Gold are champing at the bit.
“After the game and all week since we did our review, you can just tell, even though it’s a 6 day turn around, they would have been ready to play 3 days later.”
“They are the benchmark and it’s a good team to get a gauge of where you are at but what I do know is we need to improve from last week and we can’t afford to be starting with no football and having to make 100 more tackles.”
Arthur is focused on his side this week, not getting caught into the hype of South Sydney and their winning streak.
“Its not so much about Souths at the moment, it’s about us. Getting a bit of respect back and playing with a bit of pride and passion,” Arthur said.
“Whilst we didn’t have the ball for the first 20 minutes last week, we still let in some soft trys and just weren’t up to our standard.”
“We couldn’t get Souths last year but we aimed up and played well, but they are a team that really control field position and give you the ball where they want to give you the ball so we have to be better with our completions and discipline.”
On last week’s performance, Arthur knows it was the slow start that put the Eels on the back foot, and the coach addressed this heading into their Round 4 clash.
“It killed us [the slow start] against the Bulldogs too,” Arthur said.
“They had thirteen sets to our two and Warriors had twelve sets to our three to start the game.
“It did hurt us, but it was pleasing that the last 60 minutes we were on top on the scoreboard, 16 – 7”
“Against quality team, or any team, if you start like that and you are making 100 more tackles you are going to run out of juice,” Arthur added.
Eels lock Anthony Watmough said earlier this week that his own personal form was not up to standard, and Arthur was confident the near 300 game veteran will bounce back this week.
“It’s tough because he spent the whole week in hospital and he come out pretty flat,” Arthur said of Watmough.
“But he sets himself high standards, and we are all setting high standards at the moment, and he didn’t achieve those on the weekend but it’s one game and theres a long way to go.”
“’Choc’ has been around for a long time and played nearly 300 games so he will bounce back for us.”
Will Hopoate will go head to head with the inform fullback Greg Inglis, and Arthur was focused on the Eels number one performance rather than his opposition.
“This will be Will’s fourth game in the role at fullback and he is doing a lot of good things,” Arthur said.
“He is returning the ball strong but he still has some work to do with our shape and he is aware of that, but we are happy with where he is at after 4 games”
Arthur was also please with John Folau’s debut performance against the Warriors last week, despite his limited opportunities with the ball in hand.
“John’s performance was solid in a beaten team and he didn’t get many opportunities but he had a couple of strong carries,” Arthur said.
“Defensively we struggled on the right edge and he got thrown a fair few options at him and he handled them okay.”
Looking at Friday night, Arthur won’t be looking for excuses.
“We have a heap of injuries but it’s no excuse,” Arthur said of the Eels injury toll.
“We are happy with our depth, and we said that at the start of the year, but its an opportunity for the other boys to step up so that isn’t an excuse for us.”