The Dyldam Parramatta Eels will make their first trip out of Sydney this week, when they head to Townsville to take on the North Queensland Cowboys at 1300Smiles Stadium on Saturday night (Saturday 23 April).
After defeating the Cowboys in Round Two at Pirtek Stadium, the trip up north to take on the in-form second placed side will be a good test for the Eels, Head Coach Brad Arthur told Triple M this week.
“They are really impressive and defensively they were nice and aggressive and got off their line,” Arthur said of the Round 8 opposition.
“They play the same every week with their attack, but just have so many options there and a real strong running game.”
“It will be a really good test for us because we haven’t performed well up there for the last couple of years in Townsville, so I am looking forward to it,” Arthur added.
“It probably couldn’t come at a better time for us.”
Whilst Arthur has been impressed with the sides defence over the opening seven rounds, the Head Coach had particular praise for his impact men off the bench, who have been doing a great job in lifting the Blue and Gold intensity.
“Our bench has been really good for us and we have picking our bench a lot on leg speed,” Arthur said.
“You bring Danny Wicks on, he is probably one of the fastest in our club. We don’t have to replace him if we don’t want to. He has really good conditioning levels.”
“With Peni Terepo, he brings really fast feet through the middle and Kenny Edwards has a good run and bump and play a bit of footy.”
“If you add Isaac De Gois, he just terrorises teams with his attitude.”
Along with the bench, Arthur went on to praise new recruit Michael Jennings, who capped off his 200th NRL game last week with two four pointers.
“The last three weeks, he [Jennings] has been really good for us with the ball in hand. But the last seven weeks, he has been very strong defensively,” Arthur said.
“His contact is very aggressive, during the week he is relatively quiet around the joint but on the field his talk is great and his calmness has a really good influence on the rest of the boys around him.”
That influence was on show last week, when the Sea Eagles jumped out to an early aggressive start that brought plenty of energy and saw the side get on the front foot.
However after a half time speech saw the Eels show some mental fortitude early in the second half, including a mammoth 7 set effort on their own defensive line, before Jennings scored two late tries to secure the two points.
“We were pretty happy with our effort the other night. I thought we were a little bit flat and a bit out-enthused by Manly.” Arthur said.
“They really stuck it to us, but I gave the boys some simple instructions at half time to complete, kick long and make our tackles.”
“I think we completed at 90% in the second half, only missed three or four tackles and we fell over the line which is what we needed to do.”