The Parramatta Eels are preparing to take on the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night (Thursday 24 August) in Round 25 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Speaking ahead of the clash, Blue & Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur says the team is building up excitement and preparing to back up against a tough Broncos opposition, after coming away with a win over the Gold Coast Titans last week.
“It’s got a finals type build up to it and these are the games we probably want to get excited about playing. We played the Broncos a few weeks ago now and it was probably one of the better games of the season for both teams so we are looking forward to it,” Arthur said.
“We are happy with the way we are playing and I am sure over the last month the Broncos have played some really good football so we are looking to try and attack them and go at them pretty hard.”
“Every game is important and this is a good indicator of where we are at. The last time we played them it was a tough game but we need to be able to repeat that if we are to back it up in the Semi Finals,” Arthur added.
Arthur says the Blue & Gold are excited to play in front of a big crowd in a hostile environment, many of which may not have experienced in the past, and it will prepare them for what’s to come in the coming weeks.
“The players get themselves up for the big game, and this is a big game. They get excited and it’s a good arena to challenge themselves,” Arthur said.
“I am sure it is going to be a packed house and a lot of our players probably haven’t played in that atmosphere before so there is quite a bit of excitement about it.”
The Eels and Broncos were in a tough clash the last time they met, with several heated exchanges, but Arthur expects none of that this week.
“It was a big occasion and a big game and teams will get themselves up for a big occasion. Sometimes emotions get the better of them.” Arthur said.
“Both teams are professional enough to know that any ill discipline could cost them, so I am sure both teams are going to come out and have a red hot crack and go at each other pretty hard, but I have no concerns about players being ill disciplined because it’s silly.” Arthur added.
With the Eels set to return to the finals for the first time since 2009, Arthur said the side would look towards experienced players Michael Jennings, Kirisome Auva’a and Beau Scott.
“I don’t think I have that much experience at all really in Finals. Its different being an assistant coach to the coach so pressure is quite different.” Arthur said when asked of his experience in the Finals area after being an assistant coach at Manly when the Sea Eagles made the finals a few years ago.
“We have Michael Jennings, Kirisome Auva’a, Beau Scott and those blokes will bring experience to the rest of the playing group.”
“But at the moment it is about keeping it nice and simple and the effort areas and energy that you play with is what is going to get you across the line.”
Eels Beau Scott and Kaysa Pritchard were ruled out eariler in the season, with injuries that expected to see them on the sidelines for the remainder of the season, however the two were named on an extended bench this week.
Whilst Arthur does not think they are quire ready to return this week, he gave an update on when he expected them to return to the field.
“I don’t think they will play this week, they are close, but I don’t think they will play,” Arthur said of Scott and Pritchard.
“Hopefully next week.”
“It will be good to have them back, it puts pressure on everybody to play well and it gives me a reasonable headache in trying to come up with the right seventeen,” he added.
“We get Manu back next week so we will be close to full strength next week which is pleasing but we have to get through this week with hopefully no injuries.” He continued.
“We were told he [Scott] would be a rough chance for the finals, he has worked really hard but he is still 50/50 at the moment and all indications of how he has trained is that he should be very close for next week.”
In the last clash against the Broncos, the opposition jumped out to an early 12-0 lead, and Arthur said this week’s start to the clash will be vital.
“We didn’t start well and we were probably a little bit nervous and tentative with our start. Once we settled into it, it was good that we could fight back. The Broncos are a good side and to get out to 12-0, peg them back from that is a good effort and it gives us a bit of confidence but also a good reminder of how important it is to start games and go with teams for that first 10-15 minutes.” Arthur said.
“They are playing some great footy but I don’t think they played bad against us that night either. It was a really great night of football. They started hard and fast, and finished the game that way, just at the end of the eighty minutes we managed to get on top but I thought both teams could walk off the field saying they played well.”
“I think there will be a touch more footy played at Suncorp, but in saying that, the game here was quite expansive, they moved it around in their first couple of sets and we are expecting the same,” Arthur continued.
Whilst a Finals spot is guaranteed for the Blue & Gold, Arthur still expects a high standard for the remaining two weeks of the regular season.
“We are still a bit off yet. We had that one good effort against the Broncos, but it will be a real good indicator of where we are at Thursday night going into the Finals,” Arthur said.
“There is no complacency, we have an opportunity and you don’t get these opportunities every year. Just because we are in the finals this year, doesn’t mean we are going to make it next year so we have an opportunity to do the best we can.”
“It’s been a long time, the boys have been waiting a long time, we have been working hard and we want to make sure we have no regrets throughout the pre-season.” Arthur 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.