The Dyldam Parramatta Eels will be celebrating a milestone this weekend when they take on the Newcastle Knights, with Captain Tim Mannah running out for his 150th NRL First Grade Game.
Mannah has been an instrumental member of the Blue and Gold since making his NRL debut in 2009 and the Captain said the milestone he will reach this weekend is something he is extremely proud of.
“I haven’t had much time to sit back and think about playing 150 NRL games, but it is a pretty special moment,” Mannah said.
“Looking back when I was young, playing one or two games was a goal of mine so getting to 150 is definitely something I am proud of.”
The milestone is a special one that will also be shared with Eels halfback Chris Sandow, and Mannah reflected on an Australian Schoolboys Tour of Europe where he played together with the number seven in 2006.
“It was only a few years ago that Chris and I were touring Europe on an Australian Schoolboys tour and that’s when we first got to know each other.”
“We wouldn’t of thought we would be playing 150 games down the track together but it is definitely special to share it with a really good mate like Chrissy and hopefully we can have a great day out in Newcastle.”
Whilst the milestone is a special one for the Eels captain, Mannah’s whole attention was on his opponents this weekend, rather than his own personal achievement.
“I think our main focus is making up for last week and putting in a performance we can be proud of and hopefully get the result,” Mannah said.
“They showed what they are capable of doing the first few weeks and they are a very good side, especially at home where they are hard to beat. But for us, we have a lot we can improve on and if we could play tonight we would.”
Mannah said the Eels have been disappointed with their performance over the past two weeks and the squad was ready to right the wrong from their last few weeks.
“With the kind of game we had on the weekend, it’s one of those games you want to make up for and we want to get back out on the field ASAP,” Mannah said.
“The common theme over the last few weeks has been that we are shooting ourselves in the foot and that has been happening a lot,”
“We are making a lot of errors and making it hard on ourselves but in general, our attitude in defence has to improve. To allow a team to score as easily as the Titans did is something we are not proud of.”
Whilst there has been recent criticism of Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur in the media and opinions on whether the squad was being affected by future signings and potential players coming to the club, Mannah confidently stood behind Arthur, praising the Head Coach.
“He has been outstanding the last couple of weeks and has been a great leader for the club,” Mannah said of Arthur.
“I think any coach can be good when the times are good and winning a couple of games but I think the last few weeks when we have had some rough games, the way he has handled it has probably exceeded expectation.”
“I don’t think there is too many coaches that can handle it has well as he has and it’s a real credit to himself. He is a coach that has a huge future and he has the support of all the players.” Mannah added.
“He is very honest and he says it how it is to make sure everyone understands where they stand and where they are going wrong. He doesn’t hide his punches, he just says it how it is, but he is also positive.”
“He is doing everything he can to make sure the team he has reaches its ability each week and I dare say you will see an improved side this week,” Mannah added.