Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur says the addition of halfback Jeff Robson to the Blue and Gold will ease the pressure on five-eighth Corey Norman as the Eels take on the Sydney Roosters on Friday night for the Jack Gibson Cup.
The Eels were rolled by the fast-finishing Sharks 34-24 in Round 17, and Arthur said his side's lack of possession and decreasing completion rate across the game left them vulnerable to the top-of-the-table Sharks.
“It was pretty encouraging that with three minutes to go we were still a chance of winning that game,” Arthur said.
“We started really well, we got to probably a false lead early and the second half we only had 35% possession.”
“We went from making one error in the first half to five or six and completing at 60%. So we really made it hard for ourselves but it was very brave to keep turning up like we did.” Arthur added.
Turning the attention to this Friday nights clash against the Roosters, Arthur says the side is not underestimating their opposition, with the position of the Roosters on the competition ladder not a true indicator of the quality of their side.
“They’re 14th or 15th on the table but they’re a much better side than that,” Arthur said.
“With Mitchell Pearce back in the team, he made a big difference to them [and] Hargreaves (Jared Waerea-Hargreaves) is just starting to hit his straps with his strong carries.”
“They’re a very physical forward pack and we’re going to have to be at our best tomorrow night.”
With Arthur making three changes to his side this week, the Eels welcome back veteran halfback Jeff Robson to the Blue and Gold, who will partner Corey Norman in the halves in his first game since returning to the club last week.
“He is [Jeff Robson] just a calming influence and I think he brings a bit of help for 'Normy' [Norman],” Arthur said.
“With four halves at the club and three of them being injured it’s been a big job that he has [Norman] had to take on and Robbo [Jeff Robson] will just take a bit of pressure off him.” Arthur added.
“Robson will help with directing the team around the park and let Normy get back to his strength which is running the football and playing a bit of what he sees.”
Along with the return of Robson, club captain Tim Mannah and centre Brad Takairangi are both set to return from injury for Friday night's match up.
“[Tim] is one of those blokes we can rely on out on the back field to get his 10 metres on his carry, and get a quick play-the-ball for us.”
“The boys look around when they’re lacing their boots up and just to see who they got alongside them, and Tim’s certainly someone that brings a bit of confidence.”
Prop Danny Wicks lines up alongside Mannah in the front row for the Blue and Gold for his 100th NRL game in the Round 18 clash, and Arthur said the achievement was a credit to Wicks' determination and attitude.
“I remember the first time we met Danny," Arthur said.
"I came away from that meeting saying he is definitely someone that can help take this club forward.”
“He was a bit busted throughout his first preseason, we trained him pretty hard, and he was pretty resilient. He is getting the rewards and so are we at the moment.”
“He's a big reason why the playing group is still managing to hold it together this year with a few of the dramas that we’ve had off the field,” Arthur added.
“Danny’s faced plenty of hardship so he is well equipped to handle it and help the boys through it."
The Dyldam Parramatta Eels take on the Sydney Roosters at Pirtek Stadium on Friday 8 July, kick off at 7:50pm. Click here for all the Round 18 Game Day Info