Arthur: Roosters are the Benchmark
Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach was refusing to think about the off-season as his side prepares to take on the in-form Sydney Roosters on Saturday night.
With the tricolours having won their last eight clashes, Arthur knows the Blue and Gold are facing the benchmark side of the competition.
“They’re playing good, consistent footy,” Arthur said.
“They’re full of confidence. They just know how to find a way to win and it becomes a habit for them. They keep it pretty simple: they carry the ball nice and hard and they make sure they’re always playing off the back of momentum.”
“Defensively, they work for each other. All round they’re a pretty well-balanced side.”
“They’re are the best forward pack in the competition at the moment, but I’m happy with the performances our boys have put in this season as a forward pack, and it’s a good challenge that our boys are looking forward to.”
Sitting 12th on the Telstra Premiership ladder, Arthur knows his side’s finals hopes are slim, but his charges aren’t short on determination to turn up for each other and the Blue and Gold Army.
“I’d hate to think that we need to try and find too much motivation,” Arthur said.
“It’s part of our job to turn up every week and play for our fans, and it’s Isaac De Gois’ 200th [NRL Game] so there’s a little bit of extra motivation there.”
“I don’t want to be laughed at here, but why can’t we make the semis? We’re still a chance. That’s our motivation at the moment, and if we can’t beat the Roosters, well, we’re not good enough to be in the semis anyway.”
“Off the back of last week’s performance, defensively we were good, but we need to try and be better in attack. We can’t be turning the ball over and only having three or four sets for the first 20 minutes of the game, because the roosters are a very good side and they’ll start well and they’ll make us pay for it.”
With centre Brad Takairangi undergoing surgery during the week for a fracture to his foot sustained against the Penrith Panthers in Darwin, Arthur will call Vai Toutai into the side as his replacement. And with seven players currently sidelined for the season, the Head Coach was refuting talk that injury has unfairly disadvantaged the Eels in 2015.
“We’ve had a horror injury toll this year, but I’m sure there are other clubs that have had to face the same,” Arthur said.
“It’s tough, but it’s part of week to week NRL and it gives Vai an opportunity to put his best foot forward for us.”
The Eels kick off against the Roosters at Allianz Stadium at 7.30pm on Saturday, August 15.