The Parramatta Eels are preparing to take on the Brisbane Broncos at ANZ Stadium this Friday night in Round 21 of the NRL Telstra Premiership and Blue & Gold co-captain and prop Tim Mannah says every week is a big test, and this week’s game isn’t going to be any different.
Heading into the clash against the in form Broncos, Mannah says the Eels are confident with the team set to take the field, providing a great opportunity for Bevan French to return to fullback.
“I think every week is a big test, this is obviously another one. Broncos, they always set the benchmark in terms of a consistently good team and they are in good form,” Mannah said.
“It’s going to be a big test for us and especially without Gutho. I’m really confident with Bevan slotting into fullback and the team we have.”
“We are looking forward to it.”
With the loss of Gutherson in last week’s match against the Tigers Mannah says the side is out to prove the critics wrong.
“We’re not too fussed. We are happy for people to write us off. We’ve got a job to do every week, and we’re confident with the team we have and we’re happy to just slide under the radar and just keep chipping away,” Mannah said.
"He’s obviously a really important part of our team, not just what he does on the field, but the energy he brings off it. Having his personality around the place, he’s the kind of guy that brings a lot to the Club.”
“I think Bevan is a really handy player to be able to slot back into fullback, he’s very talented and a lot of teams would wish that had someone like Bevan to put in there” Mannah added.
“He’s a great player. At the start of the year he was getting targeted a fair bit but I think he’s grown a lot in the last few months and he’s definitely going to be better for it.”
Mannah says the entire side have a lot to improve on if they are to match it with the Broncos tomorrow night.
“I don’t think it’s the only one player to step up. It’s the responsibility of all 17 players that play tomorrow to take the game to another level,” Mannah said.
“Everyone at this time is thinking along the same lines. Thinking we’re on the home straight now and everyone wants to kind of step up a bit more intensity. That’s everyone’s job not just one person,” he added.
Mannah says Corey Norman will bring a changed player to this year’s run home, being a more composed and mature player, having grown a lot since missing the end of last years season.
“I think Normy’s grown heaps in leadership and as a person he’s a lot more mature on and off the field, now compared to 12 months ago, he’s grown a lot.”
“It’s only going to be good for us to have his composure, and seeing his field goal the other day I think it was his first in his career, that was a sign to show how much he’s grown and the maturity he’s having on the field.”
And the Eels focus is purely on the next few weeks, and ensuring they do everything they can to come away with wins at this time of year.
“To be honest I’m not really thinking about the past too much, I’m not really looking too far into the future, I’m looking at tomorrow night and how we can best prepare to best play the Broncos.” Mannah said.
“I think we can start thinking of what it means to play the finals when we get there, our focus is a lot more on the now and the present. If you fall into the trap of thinking too far ahead, you lose focus on what the job is at the moment and right now it’s focusing on playing the Broncos.”
“I think after the game we just spoke about how we do need to take our game to another level. We’re capable of playing a lot better than we have been the last few months and the pleasing thing is we’ve had good results.”
“But at the end of the day if we want to be a serious contender this year we’ve got to start taking our game to another level. The feeling after the game against the Tigers was we know we are a lot better than what we played, it’s just about reaching our potential,” Mannah added.
With a strong Blue & Gold presence at last week’s Eels victory over the Wests Tigers, Mannah is hoping for a similar reception this week.
“This is our home now, we want to really start building a bit of momentum and getting a big crowd out to tomorrow’s game. The more people that turn up the more inspires the boys and hopefully we can get big numbers like it was last week and really drive that momentum as we head into the home straight,” Mannah said.
“I think the boys have really turned this into our home now and we really hope the fans really buy into that and really understand how important it is that they come out and show their support. Because the more of you guys that come out the better it is for the players.”