The Parramatta Eels have landed in the Northern Territory ahead of their Round 14 clash against the North Queensland Cowboys at Darwin’s TIO Stadium on Saturday 10 June.
Speaking to the media upon the team’s arrival, Blue & Gold skipper Tim Mannah says the side feels comfortable at their home away from home.
“It definitely feels like a home away from home. We have had a really good connection with the Northern Territory for the last four years, and I feel like we have built a really good rapport with the community and the people here. We are really looking forward to getting out there Saturday night and playing here again,” Mannah said on the team’s arrival.
“It’s a great record and starting to feel like home for us. Every time we get here, we get more familiar with the place and really enjoy it, so the partnership with the NT Government has been fantastic and we have enjoyed every year we have been up here.”
“There are plenty of community programs going on at the moment. We have a lot of players that aren’t playing down to injuries, and they are doing a lot of community work so we will be out and about. We are looking forward to meeting the fans and meeting the community.” Mannah added.
“The boys have loved every minute of coming up here the last four years and we would love to keep the relationship. It has been a great partnership with the NT Government and the Eels, it’s healthy, and hopefully we can keep it going. “
The Eels are preparing to take on the Cowboys, after a gritty and gutsy win over the Warriors last week, and despite coming into the clash off the back of a victory, Mannah says the side must be focused on this week ahead, rather than looking at their past performances.
“That was last week, it was a while ago. We have to make sure we back up our performances up and be good every week. It was good to get the win but we need to make sure we turn up this weekend and get the job done as well,” Mannah said.
“We can definitely build on the performance. It was a gutsy result but there were parts of our game we want to improve.”
And with speculation Jonathan Thurston will return for the away side, Mannah is not looking too far from the Eels backyard.
“Regardless of what their team is, we have to focus on our own backyard and how we can be good and focusing on ourselves,” Mannah said.
“We don’t look back too much. We don’t look back at last week, or four or five weeks ago, we look at how we can improve and be better this week, and that is our main focus.”
“Every game is important at this time of year, so we have to make sure we keep chipping away and getting as many wins as we can to set ourselves up to be playing at the end of the year.”
And Corey Norman, who was named on an extended bench earlier in the week, may return to the field from a knee injury, Mannah provided an update, but is confident in half Clint Gutherson if he doesn’t play.
“It’s a bit too early to say at the moment. He will have a training session today but the closer to Saturday we get the better we will know,” Mannah said of Norman.
“It’s a day to day proposition, but its more his call than the medical staff to make the call for him.”
“I think Clint Gutherson has been our most consistent player this year. He has been good every game, so we weren’t too surprised with his performance last week and I am sure he is going to do that for us again this week.” He added.
The Eels will kick off against the Cowboys on Saturday 10 June at TIO Stadium, kick off at 7pm.