With the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership five weeks away, Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur has spoken about the 2016 season ahead with Triple M's Rush Hour on Monday 25 January.
With expectations hovering over the Blue and Gold squad, after strong off-season recruitment, Arthur admitted there were expectiations for the Eels to return to Finals football in the upcoming season.
“Every coach is going to say the same, and every coach at this time of year thinks they can make the semis and win the comp,” Arthur said.
“Every team that goes through a pre-season wants to be playing finals football and we are no different." Arthur added after hearing an excerpt from Eels legend Peter Sterling
“We are happy with the way we have recruited, and we are happy with the way we have trained and we want to be playing Finals football” Arthur added.
Part of that pressure and expectation of the Eels to make the finals in 2016 comes from the recruitment of experienced players Kieran Foran, Michael Gordon, Beau Scott and Michael Jennings, all of which bring different attributes to Arthur’s Blue and Gold squad.
“All of the new guys have had different impacts. Michael Gordon and Clinton Gutherson have really trained really well in terms of the physical side of things and conditioning, Arthur said.
“Kieran Foran has taken a little bit of pressure off Corey Norman with helping to lead the team around to allow him to play his natural running game, whilst Beau Scott has given us a harder edge to our forward pack.”
“Obviously Michael Jennings has only just joined us so he will take a bit to get used to the style of footy that we play, but we bought him to bring his own style of footy as well.” Arthur added.
However whilst plenty of the media attention has been focused around the new Blue and Gold recruits, Arthur also has high expectations on his side’s younger squad Members to stand up in 2016.
“The nucleus of our team that we have been building over the last two years, a lot of those young boys, a lot of them will by 50-gamers in 2016,” Arthur said.
“They are the ones I am expecting the big seasons from and the most improvement out of.”
"Being young and inexperienced doesn't cut it any more. They need to aim up and I think they will."
However the Eels are not focusing on Finals football at this point in the year.
The Blue and Gold have continued to train hard all pre-season and Arthur and his coaching staff have recently began to alter the squad’s training sessions in preparation of the upcoming Downer NRL Auckland Nines and pre-season trial matches.
“We are training really well, there is a real desire with our training, the professionalism with our new training facilities added to an improved disciplined approach from us,” Arthur said.
“Just today we have dropped back the load. We have been having some big loads and everything has been pretty physical with the demand of back to back days and plenty of running,” he added.
“We have done a little bit of pressure training over the last few weeks against the clock and some situational scenarios”.
“We are trying to sharpen and shorten up our sessions now trying to get ready for the upcoming Nines and trial matches. It’s not long until Round One.”