Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur says Sunday’s clash with the Penrith Panthers will be another opportunity for the Blue and Gold to step up in the absence of key players.
The Eels’ injury toll has expanded to include winger Semi Radradra, sidelined with a medial ligament injury following the side’s Round 18 win over the Roosters, while centres Michael Jennings and Brad Takairangi will face fitness tests before Sunday’s Round 19 game.
“There’s a bit of doubt over Takaz (Brad Takairangi),” Arthur said.
“There’s doubt over quite a few of our players at the moment, so we need to try a few things at training today at our Captain’s run and see where we get to. We do have our fair share of injuries: last week was evidence of that.”
“We had plenty of players playing out of position, but the belief and the effort and the energy and the desire is still there to go out and perform well. That’s all we can really control at the moment.”
Jennings will be looking to back up from Wednesday night’s Origin III clash at ANZ Stadium, where the Eels centre put on a show of strength and footwork in the dying minutes to cross the line for the Blues’ match-winning try.
“[Jennings] is another one with a fitness test this morning, we’ll see where he’s at.”
“I was really pleased for him on the back of probably his disappointment from game two, and like a true champion player he aimed up and sealed the game for them. It’d be nice if he could do that for us on Sunday.”
Corey Norman will be unavailable for the Panthers match up - the five-eighth has been stood down pending a meeting with the club’s disciplinary committee - but Arthur was keen to focus on the positives for his side.
“[It’s been] 20 weeks that we’ve been focussing on negatives [in the media],” Arthur said.
“I want to talk about the positives of the team. The positives are that someone will get the opportunity to step up for Corey. He’s one of our better players, but we can’t dwell on that.”
“Everyone that’s had to come into our team so far this year has played their role and done their job, and that’s what’s required from whoever takes his place in the Penrith game.”
“They’re a very good football team (the Panthers),” Arthur added.
“The last couple of weeks they probably haven’t been happy with their form but they play plenty of football, they ask plenty of questions, so we’re going to have to be very good defensively.”
“We’ve got a very good football team at the moment, they’re playing some good football and I can’t wait to see them have a go tomorrow afternoon.”
“I couldn’t be any prouder of them.”
The Eels kick off against the Penrith Panthers at 4pm on Sunday, July 17, at Pepper Stadium.