Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur has conceded that off-field dramas may have unsettled the Blue and Gold in the past few weeks, as the side picked up back-to-back losses in Rounds 10 and 11.
Arthur said an upbeat mood at training ahead of the Eels’ Round 12 clash with the Newcastle Knights had thrown up a contrast with the preceding weeks.
“We’ve had a really good week of training,” Arthur said.
“It’s easy to keep saying that we just put it aside and brush it off, but maybe over the last couple of weeks we haven’t been at our best football, and maybe it has taken its toll little bit, but it’s not an excuse. We’ve definitely seen a change of mentality and attitude this week.”
“I can’t say for sure, but maybe for the past fortnight they (the players) have been putting on a brave face. They’ve still been putting in plenty of effort. We’re all humans, they’re not robots, and they’ve been very strong to [try and] put it aside but maybe their head hasn’t been in the game for the full 80 minutes.”
“But there’s sort of a sense of relief from the boys, that it can’t get much worse. We’ve hit rock bottom. I think we’ve hit rock bottom, and now we need to make sure that everything we do is about getting better as a team, getting better as a club.”
Arthur said a win would be crucial for his side’s mindset, but the Blue and Gold will be looking to post a win without prop, Junior Paulo, who has requested a release from the club.
“It’s very important to keep our season alive, but also just good for morale,” Arthur said.
“[Junior’s] managements has asked for a release so we’re just working through that, Daniel Alvaro will play in his position. One thing about Daniel Alvaro, he works really hard and he’s someone that the boys like playing with.”
“We need to be nice and disciplined and we need to have a hardened attitude with our defence. They’ve got some good young kids (Newcastle), and I think if you have a look at their forward pack this week it’s probably their strongest pack they’ve had for quite some time. It’s in front of their home crowd so I’m sure they’ll be coming out ready to have a crack.”
“It’s really important this week that we get a bit of steely resolve back in our defence.”
Halfback Kieran Foran has spent the week training with the side, with a shoulder complaint keeping him from flying to Queensland for ongoing treatment for his personal issues.
“He couldn’t fly because of his shoulder, he was in quite some pain,” Arthur said.
"He’s consulted with his doctor up there and he’s done a couple of Skype sessions, and he’s still got what he needed to get out of it. We’re working closely with Kieran and his management, we’re in constant contact with them and obviously with the doctor who’s looking after him.”
The Blue and Gold will take on the Newcastle Knights on Monday, May 30, at Hunter Stadium, kick off at 7pm.