Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur says his side’s start will be key as they come up against the physically imposing Canberra Raiders on Saturday afternoon at Pirtek Stadium.
Coming off a heartbreaking 20-18 loss to the Panthers in the dying seconds of Round 5, Arthur said the 6-day turnaround was a welcome one.
“It’s probably a good thing that it’s a reasonably short turnaround,” Arthur said.
“Theres a lot disappointment: with ten minutes to go we failed to probably control the game and close it out. A couple of the options we took with our kicks, and only having two sets out of that last nine really hurt us.”
“I thought our effort was really good, and all our performances [where we won] this year we probably won out of effort but out execution hasn’t been great.”
“We’ve been really quick to get our review done and be very honest, and if you’ve got an honest approach to it you can deal with hit and move on.”
Arthur welcomes back hooker Nathan Peats to the starting side this week, with Isaac De Gois moving to the interchange bench and Daniel Alvaro stepping into the role of starting prop in place of injured club Captain, Tim Mannah.
“His energy, his toughness, he’s a competitor and he wants to win,” Arthur said of Peats.
“Kaysa and Isaac De Gois have done a great job, so I think we’ve been very fortunate [while Peats was injured]. But he’s a quality player and he’s definitely going to add to us.”
“It’s Peatsy’s first game back, and it’s a long season so we don’t want to push him through the 80 minutes [straightaway]. And Isaac the last couple of weeks has got players’ player and a coach’s award in 3 games, so he’s done a really good job for us.”
“Polar (Daniel Alvaro) has been going well, his numbers are really good at Wentworthville. He’s been getting out some good minutes, he’s carrying the ball strong, his work rate is excellent. He’s really grown in the pre-season and that’s what we need.”
Following a dominant performance against the Bulldogs at their spiritual home of Belmore, Arthur is prepared for the Canberra Raiders to be difficult to contain when they hit the field in Parramatta.
“They’re big and strong, they’re physical, they carry the ball hard and I thought they really aimed up against the Dogs. We need to make sure that defensively we’re getting our bodies in front of them."
if you want to stand to the side, they’ll just plough right through you.”
Canberra will be buoyed by the return of their halves combination of Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer against Canterbury-Bankstown, after missing three weeks of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
“For their first game back, they’re probably down on kilometres or miles in combination - like us - and I thought they did a really good job,” Arthur said.
“They didn’t overplay their hand: they let their forward dictate the game and then they played off the back of them.”
“It’s really handy for a team that’s got left and right kickers [like Canberra], we’re fortunate in that area, too. Our kicking game has probably been our trademark this year: if there’s anything we can hang our hat on it’s that our kicking game has been really good.”
And while Arthur praised his halves pairing’s work with the boot, he sees plenty of room for improvement in the whole team when it comes to ball control.
“The start of both halves is something we haven’t been really happy with in terms of what we want to do with our completion rate early in the game,” Arthur said.
“We’re turning over some cheap possession early and putting ourselves under pressure, and we did it again against Penrith our 3rd set in, we turned the ball over on our tryline.”
“We need to be smart with our start.”