The Parramatta Eels take on the St. George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium in Round 15 of the NRL Telstra Premiership this weekend (Sunday 18 June) and Blue & Gold fullback Bevan French says the Eels must start finding some consistency to put in 80-minute performances.
With just over half the season gone, French said the next few week’s for the Blue & Gold are important in securing their spot towards the back end of the year.
“The last game [where we had a complete performance] was against the Dragons. That was one game there where we competed in everything for the full 80 minutes.” French said.
“Every win since then we have only played for a half of footy, or not even that, so with BA saying that, it’s because we haven’t had a full 80 minute performance since the Dragons.”
“I don’t really think it has anything to do with what team is in the top eight or where they sit, I think it is having a full 80 minute performance.” French added when asked on the Eels record against sides in the Top Eight.
“We haven’t done that since Round Two. We have come away with a few wins, just on effort and grinding performances, but we are into that time of the season now where we need to start upping that and playing for a full 80 minutes. If we can do that, we can compete with any side in the Top Eight.”
The next five weeks sees the Eels take on an Origin-effected Dragons this week, an Origin-effected Storm side in Round 18, along with the bye in Rounds 16 and 19.
French said this portion of the season will go a long way in their 2017 campaign.
“We have touched on the next few weeks, being just over halfway through the season now, we have to start finding a bit of consistency with our footy if we are going to be top eight contenders at the end of the year.” French said.
“We have the Dragons with a few of their Origin players out and we have the Storm when the other Origin clash is on as well, along with two byes in between there, so it is a big period these next few weeks.” He added.
“We can get quite a few points over the next few weeks with the draw we have so it is really important that we can get as much wins under our belts.”
Reflecting on last week’s clash, French said the entire side needed to improve.
“We were on the end of a Thurston master class. We knew they were going to perform with him coming back and we spoke about not giving them opportunities down our end of the field and we did the complete opposite,” French said.
“You can’t do that to a team with somebody like Thurston directing around a team like that, he will make you pay for it and he certainly did.”
Norman and Moses played their first game in the halves together, and French said that their combination was not to blame.
“We have worked on it [the Moses and Norman] combination a bit,” French said.
“It was obviously something that needed to be brought up and worked on during the week, but we cant blame them too much.”
“It was their first game together on the weekend and it wasn’t just them two that didn’t click, it was the majority of us. More than half the squad was off their game on the weekend so we cant just put it down to those two not connecting well.”
The Eels may welcome back Michael Jennings to the side this week, named on an extended line up, and French said his inclusion will be plenty of strike power however he would be given every opportunity to prove his fitness.
“Jenko has done a bit of training during the week and if he is 100% he will obviously be in there, he has that much strike power,” French said.
“It is obviously how he pulls up after Captain’s Run on Saturday morning, but it will be good to have him back and have a bit more strike edge power on the edge there.”
The Eels take on the Dragons at ANZ Stadium on Sunday 18 June for Round 15 of the NRL Telstra Premiership. Click here to purchase your tickets to the clash.