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The Dyldam Parramatta Eels take on the top-of-the-table Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks tonight at Southern Cross Group Stadium for Round 17 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.

Previewing the game thanks to, Blue and Gold Assistant Coach Pete Gentle says the Eels' defensive display and structures will play a big role in claiming the two points against the in-form Sharks.

Despite plenty of off-field distractions during the week, Gentle says it has not affected the side at all.

"The week has been good, a lot of distractions off the field but they are very professional this playing group. We have pushed it all year that they have a job to do, and that's playing 80 minutes of football at the end of the week," Gentle said.

"Our job is to win footy games, coach the boys to do that, and their job is to play and win footy games. We don't stray too far away from that, regardless of what is going on on the outside."

The in-form Cronulla Sharks will pose plenty of dangers, that Gentle says the side will need to be wary of.

"They have threats right across the park, a very good roster and very fortunate too that they have only used 19 players, the least out of any side. They have a very consistent team each week." Gentle said.

"They have threats right across the park but when have to be very good in our defensive areas, stick to our systems and we can shut down a lot of their threats."

"They play a real power game through the middle so it's a big job for our middle this week. Offloads in the middle, kicks, Ennis out of dummy half, they have threats everywhere. We need to stick to our system and not worry too much about them."

"We have done a lot of work on what they can throw at us but I think we have the right defensive system to shut a lot of that down," Gentle added.

The Eels are coming off the bye, however Head Coach Brad Arthur has made two changes to his side, including the inclusion of Cody Nelson replacing an injured Kaysa Pritchard.

"Cody is pretty handy and can play a few positions for us too," Gentle said.

"Plays at nine, can play on the edge or in the middle. He has been playing well all year, he has captained Wenty Magpies this year, every week he has put in and we are looking forward to seeing how he goes."

The Eels kick off against the Sharks at 7.30pm on Saturday, July 2, at Southern Cross Group Stadium in the 2016 Johnny Mannah Cup. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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