The Parramatta Eels take on the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in Round Four of the NRL Telstra Premiership at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 25 March.
Coming off a loss against the Gold Coast Titans, Blue & Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur says the players were disappointed after last week’s performance and Arthur is expecting a much better performance against the Premiers.
“It was disappointing, in particular the way we started the game. You can really tell about your attitude with your start, and our start was good,” Arthur said.
“We completed at 9 out of 10 straight sets, but off the back of a try, we didn’t complete that set and we started to take a few short cuts here or there and it really cost us in the end.”
“The boys were very disappointed, and it’s a good sign when they come back to training our first day back and they were very sheepish and a bit flat with their energy,” Arthur added.
“That’s a good thing because I don’t want them bouncing in with excitement after a disappointing performance and really a lost opportunity.”
The Eels have made a handful of changes to their line up this week, with Corey Norman returning from injury, and prop forward Siosaia Vave named in Arthur’s 17 man line up.
“Corey was touch and go last week with a tight turn around with the five days, and maybe if we played Sunday he was a good chance,” Arthur said.
“He is definitely playing. Everyone obviously has to get through training today but he has trained all week with us and can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t play.”
“We missed his kicking game and he is a class player, but at the end of the day, having a completion rate after we completed 10 straight sets of around 60%, I don’t know if he could of done much there,” Arthur added.
“If we don’t get the ball, and aren’t getting to our last tackle, his kicking game wouldn’t of been any good to us anyway.”
Arthur also confirmed hooker Kaysa Pritchard would take the field, despite coming off the field with injury last week.
“Kaysa Pritchard is right so we will be 1-17.”
“Vave’s had some surgery on his shoulder in the pre season and started with a couple of hit outs in reserve grade so he might be short of a gallop but we will look to get him on before half time and hopefully get a few strong carries out of him and provide a bit of impact for us.”
Looking at the Sharks, Arthur says both sides will be hungry and determined for improved performances.
The Sharks, who suffered a defeat to the St. George Illawarra Dragons last week, have named new recruit James Segeyaro on the bench, but Arthur says whether the hooker plays or not, the Premiers will be dangerous.
“Being the Premiers, you come with that tag that everyone gets themselves up,” Arthur said.
“Both teams are coming off a loss so both teams will be looking to bounce back and I think if it’s raining tomorrow night, it will be really tough conditions.”
“Segeyaro, if he plays, we will have to watch him especially around that marker area. He is pretty good out of dummy half.” Arthur added.
“Everyone is a threat, that young kid they have playing nine there at the moment is a very good player too.”
Saturday night’s clash will be the Eels first home game of the season, and Arthur says the Club will be at home at ANZ Stadium and doing everything they can to come away with the two points in the annual Johnny Mannah Cup.
“We had a good record at ANZ Stadium last year, I think we played five games there last year for four wins,” Arthur said.
“The boys are starting to get comfortable there, and we are looking forward to trying to out number a crowd and make sure we have a home ground advantage.”
“It’s a special game for both clubs and in particular Tim,” Arthur added.
“He is a very good club man, and I am sure our boys would love nothing more than to get the deserved result for Tim.”
The Eels Round Four clash will be the Blue & Gold’s first home game at ANZ Stadium in 2017, with the Eels and Sharks playing for the annual Johnny Mannah Cup.
The annual fixture honours former Eels and Sharks Player Jon Mannah, and supports the work of the Mannah Foundation, assisting young people from all walks of life.
Kick off is at 7pm.