The Parramatta Eels are preparing to take on the Brisbane Broncos on Thursday 24 August in Round 25 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
After a convincing 30-8 victory over the Gold Coast Titans last week, with the Eels securing their spot in the Finals for the first time since 2009, they now prepare to travel to Suncorp Stadium against the second placed Broncos.
“It’s always a challenge, especially going up there. Its going to be a great atmosphere and for the boys its going to be a massive game. There are a few young fellas who haven’t played in front of a big crowd and at Suncorp so it’s going to be great for the young fellas coming through,” Eels centre Michael Jennings said ahead of this week’s clash.
“It’s an important game for us, if we want to think about being a Top Four side, it’s a great test for us this Thursday night.”
“It’s always important, but we are not too focused on that.” Jennings added when asked about the Top Four position.
“Our goal is to finish in the Top Four but at the moment we are really focusing on each week. We have two weeks until the finals and we are just worrying about the Broncos and playing them.”
The experienced centre says the side’s preparations for the clash are underway with the team preparing for a tough encounter in front of a local, loyal and passionate Broncos fan base.
However the Blue & Gold will take plenty of confidence out of their victory over the opposition in Round 21 of the competition, where the Eels rallied from 12 points down to come away 28-14 victors.
Jennings says the entire side is focused on turning up with the right attitude this week.
“It’s a home game for them, and as you have seen in previous games, how they play at home they are a different team. They play out of their skin and for us it’s focusing on what we need to bring to the table and what we need to do best,” Jennings said.
“We were 12-nil down last time, and coming back from that and being composed and calm after that situation was pretty good for us. If we can play a full 80 minute game then we will give it a good run.”
“We are really focused on what we want to do, and not focusing on how they are going to come to the game. We have to go up there with the right attitude.” Jennings added.
“The feeling is good and everyone is focused. It’s good to see everyone switching on and really putting in a lot of effort in their game and making sure they are preparing their best to play their best footy.”
“Everyone is focused and really wanting to strive for success.”
The encounter four weeks ago was heated, with run ins with Broncos forward Josh McGuire along with an incident involving Kenny Edwards causing plenty of media headlines.
“We are expecting a big game and that comes with playing footy and that’s a part of the game,” Jennings said of a heated rivalry, particularly after the two side’s last encounter.
“We will be expecting a lot when we get up there but we are not focused on what they are going to do, what is being said, but we have to focus on ourselves.”
Jennings says the side will need to be focused on the entire Broncos line up, that boasts plenty of strike across their entire side.
“For us it’s focusing on a majority of their players, because across the park they have threats all over, so if we minimize the threats all over the park, it will give us a good opportunity in getting the two points,” Jennings said.
“Milford is a great player and a great kid as well. He has been playing unbelievable footy, who is that natural player, and we will get on the drawing board and see how we can minimise his threat.” He added.
“Speed kills and he [James Roberts] has a lot of it. Takairangi did a great job on him last time, and we will be looking forward to him doing it again.”
The Eels are expected to be without fullback Bevan French, after he failed to complete last week’s clash, but Jennings is very confident in Will Smith who filled in the number one jersey against the Titans.
“Bevan is a big loss but young Will Smith coming through, he did a great job last week. He needs a bit more work in the back field, because he has been working in the middle during the year.” Jennings said.
“He preferred position is fullback, and Bevan is a big loss, but he is doing a great job at the moment.”
“I’d say Bevan will be back first week for the finals, so hopefully we get him back before then.” He added.
The Eels kick off against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday 24 August in Round 25 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Kick off at 7:50pm.