Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur says he will looking for a strong start from his Blue and Gold squad who need to be on their game to match it with a big and competitive Bulldogs forward pack this Friday night at ANZ Stadium.
With the Eels preparing to turn the tables on the Bulldogs, after suffering a 32-12 defeat in an injury plagued Round Two clash, Arthur pinpointed an early even possession of the ball as crucial.
“When we played them this year at the start of the year, they had 12 sets to our two to start the game. We fought back really well in the second half, but at the end (we made five changes before half time), we just sort of run out of gas,” Arthur said of the clash earlier in the year.
“Our start is important, it doesn’t mean we need to be in front on the scoreboard, it just means we need an even possession of the ball.”
“Against a big side, if you are making extra tackles at the start of the game, it will start to take its toll on you at some stage.”
Along with wanting to see a strong start from the Blue and Gold, Arthur knows his side will need to be ready to roll their sleeves up and be prepared for a challenge up front in wet conditions.
“It is another big test for us up against a very big physical forward pack who like to try and dominate you through the middle,” Arthur said.
“We have been reasonably happy with our forwards but after tomorrow night we will get a better indication of how they are travelling.”
“We are expecting rain. We are a team that does like to move the ball around a bit but as we have seen against the Wests Tigers, I think we had too much of that attitude, and we weren’t prepared to roll our sleeves up and run the ball hard first.” Arthur added.
“If we do that, maybe we will have some opportunities for our edges.”
The battle up front will also be critical in controlling the Bulldogs dangers out wide and the damage from halves Hodkinson, Reynolds and Mbye.
“If we don’t control their forwards, it will make that job even harder,” Arthur said of contain a Bulldogs side with three playmakers.
“We need to hold our own against their competitive pack, and we need to try and limit opportunities, space and time for their halves.”
The Eels have managed injuries all season, and with fullback Reece Robinson ruled out the past few weeks, Arthur has praised stand-in fullback Corey Norman for his instrumental work at the back.
“I think we have been sort of building, and it is fortunate that is the combination at the moment,” Arthur said of his new fullback and halves pairing combination.
“Corey has been doing a job for us, he is not reluctant, he prefers to play in the halves, but he understands he is doing a job for us and that’s whatever is best for the team. He is doing a really good job and has probably been instrumental for us in organising our defence and getting to the ball on the full.” Arthur said of Norman.
“Luke really controls the team and helps Corey with the gameplan and sticking to that, and Chrissy allows him to not have to think too much about that and chime in when he needs to and push up in support and if he sees an opportunity to take them on,” Arthur added.
Arthur also opened up on the possibility of hooker Nathan Peats returning from an injury to take on the Bulldogs, with the Head Coach wanting to select him if given the all clear after his final run at today’s training session.
“Peats will train today, and if he gets through today’s training session and the phyisos give us the all clear, I want him in the team.”
The Eels take on the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium tomorrow night, kick off at 7:35pm.
Don't forget to get to the Game:
The Eels will run out against the Bulldogs for their Round 19 game on Friday, July 17, wearing a Heritage Jersey inspired by those worn by 1986 Premiership-winning side.
Arrive early to see what you would look like standing in the 1986 team photo at our #ReLive86 photo booth, and remmeber the 1,947th Member through the gates will win a TV, thanks to Changhong!
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