The Parramatta Eels are coming off a gritty Round Seven victory over the Wests Tigers in their lead up to this Saturday’s Round Eight clash at ANZ Stadium against the Penrith Panthers.
Whilst there is plenty of improvements and areas to work on, Blue & Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur was pleased with his side’s fight and determination to come away with the two points last week.
“We need the two points, sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get it,” Arthur said.
“Probably the pleasing part of it was that we were down 22-10 when it was a game that we probably should have been up 22-10 so to find that bit after defending 5-6 sets on our try line, and get up the other end of the field and put some good football on and get three quick tries was pleasing. But we can’t be trying to do it that way every week because it’s very hard.”
“It is a good confidence builder for us, but defensively there was quite a few soft tries that we are not that pleased with,” Arthur added.
“I thought against New Zealand and Canberra we actually played better, but there was a period of 10-15 minutes before half time in both those games that really hurt us but we are very happy we were able to find something to get ourselves back in the contest and finish over the top of them.”
The Eels will come up against a desperate Penrith Panther side, who are coming off three consecutive losses, but Arthur knows the Blue & Gold will need to be at their best against a dangerous line up.
“They are a very good team and were disciplined in their performance last week. The week before they were down some personnel and it went to golden point so I don’t think they are playing that bad,” Arthur said.
“It’s just a really good competition and a really tight competition and if you are not at your best and somebody else is, you are going to get beat.”
“They are probably down a touch on confidence, but they are a very good team and you don’t keep a very good team down for too long.”
With Bevan French still out with injury, Clinton Gutherson will once again feature in the number one jersey and Brad Takairangi at five-eighth.
Arthur was pleased with the way they performed in last week’s clash.
“Takairangi and Gutherson did a good job. They are NRL players and train every week, all throughout the pre-season, so you have to try and prepare for these situations.” Arthur said.
“’Takaz’ is a footballer and came in and did a job for us,” Arthur said of Takairangi.
“Takaz is five-eighth again this week, and if we get a few back on deck the following week maybe there will be some changes, but for the moment, he will stay there this week anyway.”
“He is a footballer and knows how to play. He has some good skill but it is a bit harder for him defensively, having to making repeated efforts, but I thought he did a pretty good job for us. He is a big body as well and hard to handle.” Arthur added.
The Eels will welcome back Kenny Edwards to the side, the first time in 2017 after serving a suspension, and Arthur says providing he gets through today’s Captain’s Run, Edwards will take the field.
“There is a good chance he will play, we will see how he pulls up from training today and if everything goes well, he should play,” Arthur said.
“He has been training very hard, it has been an extended pre-season for him, but he is going to be definitely short of a run.”
“Everyone else has six games under their belt which is an advantage to them, but hopefully he provides a bit of energy for us.”
The Eels kick off against the Penrith Panthers in Round Eight of the NRL Telstra Premiership at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 22 April. Kick off is at 3pm.