The Parramatta Eels are preparing to take on the Newcastle Knights at ANZ Stadium on Friday 11 August in Round 23 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
The Eels sit equal third on the ladder heading into this round, but Blue & Gold forward Siosaia Vave said the side is not looking too far down the track, keeping focused on the challenge week to week.
“We are not getting ahead of ourselves and worry about semi finals. I know it sounds generic but we are taking it week by week at a time,” Vave said.
“A lot of Parramatta fans are coming out of the woodwork now but it’s good. It’s been a long time for them to wait but we don’t want to be getting too excited. We are just taking it week at a time and hopefully push for a top four spot.”
Following this week’s clash against the Knights, the Eels will face the Gold Coast Titans, Brisbane Broncos and South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Vave said there has been plenty of speculation about the Eels easy run home, but he pinpointed the Eels strong record against the Top Eight sides.
“Obviously we have the next couple of games coming up, but in saying that, we are second to the Melbourne Storm at beating the Top Eight sides,” Vave said.
“They have beaten the most top eight sides and we are second to that so a lot of people are saying are credentials are not good, getting sides at different times, but people haven’t given us a chance.”
“I hear a lot of blokes bagging us saying we haven’t played any good teams, but we are here, stamping ourselves. We are not saying we are going to win it, but we are saying we are going to put our best foot forward every week.” He added.
Despite their position on the ladder, Vave expects the Newcastle Knights to be a tough opposition this week.
Whilst the results have not gone their way throughout the year, the Knights enter the clash following on from victories over the St. George Illawarra Dragons and New Zealand Warriors and Vave expects their young and energetic forward pack to be looking to set the tone early this week.
“We have the Knights this week and they are in red hot form. Even though they are coming last, the last five games they have been leading every time they have gone in at half time,” Vave said.
“They have kind of put the nail in the coffin the last two, but I think they have been unlucky for most of the season.”
“They have a young side up there but they have been going really well just haven’t been able to finish off teams. They are a side out there that is just going to have a go.”
“Mitch Barnett is a real tough kid up there, the Safiti boys and the Parramatta junior, Jamie Buhrer. He is going to be hard to stop.” Vave added.
With Vave pinpointing the Knights forwards as their key dangers, the prop will be looking to lead the way, along with his fellow forwards, to lay a strong platform this week.
“BA put it to us, that we have been okay. We haven’t come off the field and felt like we really put it over another forward pack,” Vave said when reflecting on the Eels performance against the Broncos.
“I think Manu and a lot of the other boys took it to heart and it showed with our performance.”
“We were ruthless against the Broncos, and our defence was one of the best.” He added.
“They scored 14 points, and scored those in the first 10 minutes, so it’s a big thing for us going forward, being a bit more hard on ourselves and ruthless but that comes to sticking to BA’s game plan.”
And with Head Coach Brad Arthur putting out the call earlier this week for fans to leave work early and come to the game, Vave was in full support, hoping to see a big crowd to assist the side in coming away with the two points this week.
“BA is just trying to get an atmosphere for the boys building towards September. Hopefully we get a lot of Parramatta fans out there and get us the 50/50 calls, that’s the most important thing!” Vave said.
“For us as players, we would love to see a lot of Parramatta fans there, coming out screaming and yelling, and making some atmosphere for us and making it home for us.”