The Dyldam Parramatta Eels take on the Cronulla Sharks tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 29 August) at Pirtek Stadium for their third annual Johnny Mannah Cup encounter, and Blue and Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur says his side will take positives out of their strong defensive performance against the Manly Sea Eagles last week.
Previewing the match before the Eels’ Captains Run, Arthur was pleased with his side’s defensive performance last week.
“It was a strong effort defensively. I thought we did well in the first half to control the tempo of the game and in the second half; we probably didn’t adjust to the conditions well enough and were probably fortunate they didn’t either.” Arthur said.
“We gave them a bit of ball attacking our try line, and over the last few wins that we have had, they have been on the back of defence which has been pleasing,” Arthur added.
With the Eels out of the running for the 2015 Finals series, Arthur said he was looking for his side to put in a strong performance and something they can be proud of, in front of the Blue and Gold army who have stuck by the side through some tough times this year.
“Pre-season is a long time and we had a lot of regrets in the pre-season last year in terms of those last two performances, we haven’t played here since Round 16 and our fans have been loyal and stuck by us, so we need to put in a strong performance this week for our fans,” Arthur said.
“It has to be about us and pride in our own performance. Our motivation this week is to repay our fans with a strong performance,” Arthur added.
“It has been a tough year for everyone, and our fans haven’t waivered one bit and our players need to show their appreciation with their actions tomorrow.”
With the Sharks boasting a tough and experienced forward pack, Arthur says the clash will be a big test for the young Blue and Gold.
The Eels’ were without skipper Tim Mannah for their game against the Sea Eagles, and Arthur confirmed that the skipper would need to pass his fitness test today in order to play in the Johnny Mannah Cup, a game that is very sentimental to the Blue and Gold.
“Every week lately our forwards have had to aim up against some quality opposition and the Sharks are nice and tough and gritty so it is a big test for our forwards but they are looking forward to it,” Arthur said.
“Timmy hasn’t trained all week, but will train today, and if he gets through that he will take the field tomorrow,” Arthur added.
“Tomorrow’s game is important to him because it’s a game of footy and he missed last week, but it also holds a bit of sentimental value for him as well.”
And with plenty of media hype and distractions circling the Eels in 2015, Arthur said it was up to the side to control what they can control and use the final few rounds to continue to build into the 2015 pre season.
“We can only control what we can control, and that’s our performance, how we train, our energy and mood around the place. All those elements, the boys have been very committed to,” Arthur said.
“Every game this year we have been in the contest, but we have to start turning those contests into wins and whenever they keep training well and fronting up, that is all I can ask for at the moment.”
The annual fixture honours former Eels and Sharks player Jon Mannah, and supports the work of the Mannah Foundation, assisting young people from all walks of life.
We are excited to put on a huge day of all three grades of footy at Parramatta’s Pirtek Stadium, so please join us as we #celebratejohnny!
As part of the game day experience, get your hands on a limited edition Mannah Foundation T Shirt at this Saturday's Johnny Mannah Cup at Pirtek Stadium, with all proceeds going to the Mannah Foundation! A limited run of shirts will be available on game day from the Eels Store (opposite Parramatta Leagues Club), the Eels merchandise marquee, and the Eels Store outlet at gates G/H at Pirtek Stadium. Shirts are $30 and all proceeds will go towards the Mannah Foundation.
Gates open at 10:30am with the NYC kick off at 10:40am, NSW Cup 12:40pm kick off and NRL kickoff at 3pm.