The Parramatta Eels are preparing to take on their traditional rivals, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium this Thursday 3 August in Round 22 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.

Speaking ahead of the clash, Blue & Gold forward Manu Ma’u says the side cannot underestimate their opposition.

The Eels are coming off a 28-14 victory over the Brisbane Broncos last week, and the hardnosed forward said it was a challenge laid down by Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur that saw the Eels forward pack lay a strong platform in the win.

“BA gave us a challenge during the week. We have played teams this year, and we hadn’t put it on them, so he told us [against the Broncos] to step up. I believe we did,” Ma’u said.

“He used colourful language.” He joked.

“You know Brad, he is a tough character but the boys respect him and we love playing for him.”

“It’s good for us, I would rather be underrated and called underdogs. But we have a couple more games now and looking forward to what is ahead for us.” He added.

Ma’u expects another challenge this week, against a big Bulldogs forward pack, that despite their position on the ladder, still pose plenty of dangers.

“The Bulldogs are a really good side and better than what they are playing at the moment. They have a really good forward pack and we are looking forward to playing them.” Ma’u said.

“Their defence was really good last week and I know they will turn up this week.”

“They are an unpredictable side. Especially with James Graham up the middle, they play a lot off him and Reynolds plays off the back of that.” He added.

“We just have to be on our toes this week but we are looking forward to it.”

Fellow forward Kenny Edwards will be free to play against the Bulldogs this week, after receiving a fine following an incident on winger Jonus Pearson last week, but Ma’u says he does not want Edwards to change the way he plays.

“It has been dealt with and I can’t speak much about it.” Ma’u said.

“Kenny sometimes has brain explosions, but that is just him. We love his energy that he brings to the game.”

“Will I chip in for his fine? Oh hell no. No way, he is on his own on that one.” Ma’u added.

The Eels have won their last five games, now sitting on 28 points and in sixth position on the ladder, and Ma’u says the side is heading in a positive direction at this time of the year.

“It feels good [to be powering towards the Finals],” Ma’u said.

“When I first got here, we were at the bottom of the table. And we have built a team in four years, it’s a strong team, and we are heading in a positive direction, heading towards the Finals, hopefully.”

“We don’t look too far ahead, but there is a positive vibe around the club. BA has just told us to take it week by week.” He added.

The Eels take on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on Thursday 3 August in Round 22 of the NRL Telstra Premiership. Kick off is at 7:50pm.