The Parramatta Eels take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium on Friday 26 May in Round 12 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Speaking ahead of the clash, Blue & Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur says the clash against the Rabbitohs will be vital.
“Both teams are desperate. Souths need to get that win, and they have been playing some good football and were a touch unlucky against Melbourne. We need to win to try and consolidate a spot in that eight,” Arthur said.
“I thought he [Robbie Farah] has been really good, especially the last few weeks for them. I thought he was a big show for the State of Origin, but a lot of their attack revolves around him, bringing the forwards onto the ball which allows their backs, in particular Walker, to be dangerous.”
The Eels suffered a 22-16 defeat to the Raiders last week, with new halves pairing Gutherson and Moses hitting the field for the first time, and Arthur says the combination will only continue to improve.
“It is what it is and we are happy with the job Mitch and Gutho did last week. He [Mitch] had two training sessions with us, his long kicking game was very good, but we gave up a couple of seven tackle sets,” Arthur said.
“Some of our short kicking game needs a bit of work but I think from the start of the game to the end of the game, he got better and we showed a bit more fluency in our attack.”
“We trained again on Tuesday and we were better again so hopefully we are better again today with our Captain’s Run training and take that into the game.”
“Time on the training paddock, time on the field, he will get better,” Arthur added.
“His second half compared to is first half was better, Tuesdays training session compared to last weeks training session was better, and we will think next week it will be better again. We just need to have time on the field, but time is ticking away. We need to make sure we turn that time into wins as well.”
Arthur said the side will need to continue to work on it’s last tackle options and execute during the game.
“There is not much in the game nowadays, and our kicking game I thought for most of it was outstanding, but five seven tackle sets can take you from one end of the field to the other,” Arthur said.
“There is not a great deal that we have to tidy up but we can’t turn try scoring opportunities into seven tackles against us.”
“If we can’t score from a kick, it needs to be a repeat set or they need to go 90 metres.”
“They all have different skill sets and we need to back ourselves but we need to execute and get it right.” Arthur added.
The Eels will be unaffected by Origin duties, however have been dealing with an injury toll heading into the clash.
“We have a couple of injuries, but that is part and parcel of the game, but in terms of missing players from rep football, nobody has been taken off us.”
“Any team that loses their half is a big loss, but I think Peni Terepo and Frank Pritchard are big losses for us too, especially through the middle with their leg speed,”
The Eels will welcome back Brad Takairangi this week.
“He will go into the centres so we have the luxury with a bit of depth and with the timing of his injury coming good but I would much prefer to make some tough decisions about who is in the team and who is not,” Arthur said.
However the side may be forced to make some late changes with forward Nathan Brown to undergo a fitness test ahead of the clash.
“Nathan Brown has to get through a fitness test today so he is 50/50.” Arthur said.
“He spent the night in hospital after the game, and in terms of structurally, it is okay, it’s rib cartilage but they are a painful injury and it’s whether he can tolerate it or not for this week.”
“He played for a while and you could see going into tackles he was cringing and he couldn’t breathe, and he tried to tough it out for us and get us through to the period of the game where we make our first change. He is a competitor and he is desperate to try and play tomorrow night.” Arthur added.
Arthur had plenty of praise for his winger Semi Radradra.
Radradra will head to France to pursue a rugby union career, however the Head Coach was open to the winger returning to the Club.
“His second half was really good and he tried really hard. He was the one, on the back of a seven tackle set that we got, he took the first carry and two tackles later he was out the back and pushed up and made a bit of a break down that left side of the field for Jenko.” Arthur said.
“He is trying very hard but he is still not quite on top of his game at the moment but he is working really hard and he will get there.”
“We are hoping when he goes overseas he enjoys his footy over there but at some stage we want to see him back in the Blue & Gold,” Arthur added.
“Those talks are with the Club and Semi but at the moment we just have to worry about what happens this year but he is definitely going overseas to fulfil his dream there.”
“If Semi wants to come back, he is not the sort of player we would turn away. He is part of the Club.”