Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur says he will be after consistency from his Blue & Gold players, starting when they take on the Gold Coast Titans in Round Three of the NRL Telstra Premiership this week.
After coming away with two wins to kick off the season, Arthur is not getting ahead of himself, saying there is still plenty of improvement and areas to work on.
“It’s only round two. It’s important that we got off to a good start and we are happy with that but its probably more important now that we show some consistency,” Arthur said.
“There is quite a few areas in our defence that we are not happy with as a team that we need to fix up.”
“It’s good that we have a couple of wins early, but its going to be important where we are in 20 weeks time.” Arthur added.
“There are plenty of things that we did wrong on the weekend. We bombed two tries and when we got to a good comfortable lead we allowed them back into the game, so we need to be better than that.”
With Corey Norman unavailable this week, Arthur says there will be no extra pressure added to half Clint Gutherson as the experienced Jeff Robson returns to the side.
“It’s not great to have one of your better players on the sideline. but you work hard all pre-season, and bringing in Jeff Robson who has played 8 games with Clint Gutherson in the halves and has done a really good job for us, and Robbo has been around a long time.” Arthur said.
“The start of the season, those early couple of games, it is more about completion and field position than it is too much about whether your attack is gelling.”
“I don’t need him to do anymore than he has been doing the last couple of weeks. We just want gradual improvement from him every week and there are bits and pieces of his game that we have shown him during the week that he will go and address and try and get right for the following week.” Arthur added.
“We can’t get carried away, we are still only two games in. We would like to think that in 10-20 weeks time, our spine is going to be a lot more comfortable with each other and be a lot better.”
“We are not surprised that they would be able to follow the game plan as well as they have because they have worked really hard at that.”
With Semi Radradra coming off four tries in his last outing, Arthur says the winger is in a good frame of mind, thanks to his teammates and environment.
“Semi is in a really good spot now. He has a bit of clarity around his future and his teammates have been really good for him, the training facilities down here are great and Semi likes being around his teammates,” Arthur said.
“It’s a place of work but also a place that he [and the team] enjoy coming to. If you have a fun place you will get a lot more out of them. It’s a credit to the Club for providing this for us and to his teammates for being there to support him.”
“We have seen in his first two performances that he is focused and it’s our job to make sure he is in a happy place and concentrates on football moving forward.”
He had similar postive feelings about young fullback Bevan French, who has continued to strive to improve.
“Bevan is playing well but he can be a lot better and he knows that. That’s the beauty about Bevan, he is not satisfied with where he is at at the moment. As long as we are still having these conversations in 20 weeks time that he has improved and gotten better, because that’s what’s important,” Arthur said.
“A lot of the skill or the natural brilliance, its not coached, it just comes from within. We put the framework there for them to work within and a lot of the time, the football that you see played is a lot of instinct from a lot of those guys.”
“We have our framework and the style of footy that we like to play, but at the end of the day I don’t want to limit their ability on the field and have too many restrictions on how they play.” Arthur added.
“We have a simple game plan, they stick to it, but if we can use some of their natural brilliance we are open for it as long as if we make an error, we are prepared to defend it.”
The Eels kick off against the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on Friday 17 March, and Arthur says the side will need to be prepared to come up against a committed Titans side, ensuring they are prepared to improve on their last two performances.
“We are not really worried about what the Gold Coast put out because we have our own problems at the moment that we need to tidy up, and that’s a few areas with our defence,” Arthur said.
“They are a team that doesn’t go away and they fight right to the death. If you have a look at their Round One performance the Roosters blew them off the park early but they managed to fight and claw their way back into the game and made it respectable.”
“Every team and every NRL player likes a ‘backs to the wall’ sort of attitude and that’s what they will have this week.” Arthur added.
“They are under the pump and that’s when teams and NRL players rise to the occasion and bring out their best.”
Arthur is well accustomed to a resilient attitude, commenting on how the last 12 months had made the Blue & Gold stronger.
“I have often said it that I love my job and wouldn’t change anything that has happened to us in the past.” Arthur said.
“It has made us stronger, the players have been fantastic for me through the whole process in giving their all. Every performance last year they played their hardest and to the best of their ability for the 80 minutes and if we continue to do that, we will give ourselves a chance.”
“It has been a process for a couple of years for us, We have been working hard as a group, the foundation of the playing group that we have has been here for two or more seasons and every time we add another player to our group, they come in and strengthen our team and make us better.” He added.