The Parramatta Eels are preparing to take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday 1 September in Round 26 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
After coming away with a dominant 52-34 victory over the Brisbane Broncos last week, Eels forward David Gower says the side that whilst positive to come away with the victory over another Top Four side, there were still plenty of areas of improvement to make at the point end of the season.
“Offensively Brad was pretty happy to score that many points, we took a lot of opportunities that were presented to us, but defensively, especially in that last 10-12 minute period where we gave up two pretty soft tries, we want to start stringing 80 minute performances together at the pointy end of the season and it wasn’t good enough from us,” Gower said.
“Brad was right and he demands excellence weekly, daily and from every session. It wasn’t good enough, and we all knew that, and we are very happy to have won and won well but very disappointed with the finish to that game.”
“We are going to take the positives from last week into this week and work on the negatives that we need to improve.”
Gower knows the Eels must be on their game this Friday night and not become complacent when they take on a South Sydney Rabbitohs side who will be looking to finish off their 2017 season with a victory.
“I think we learnt a tough lesson from the Knights a few weeks ago that you can’t take any NRL game for granted. We know we have to perform well this week.” Gower said.
“Souths know their season is over as of this weekend and nobody wants to take a poor performance into the off-season so they are going to be out fired up and looking to finish the year on a high.” He added.
Gower is hoping that in-form winger Semi Radradra will be able to back up last week’s four-try performance against the Rabbitohs.
“I am glad Semi is on our team, that’s for sure! I wouldn’t want to tackle the big fella. 105 kilos of Fijian muscle, I wouldn’t want to be in front of it!” Gower said.
“He gives us a great lift and starts our sets off the way we want to start. You cant ask any more from a winger – big, strong, fast and when you are blowing 10 minutes into the half and you watch him run the length it is a beautiful sight.” He added.
Radradra will be leaving the Blue & Gold at the end of the 2017 season, and whilst Gower said it will be sad to see the winger leave, the Eels and Radradra must focus on the now and the opportunity that they have ahead of them.
“We still have him for this year and hopefully another 5 games, four games if it all goes our way, and we are focused on that and Semi working on a few little things in his game that he needs to work on whilst also focusing on the stuff that he does fantastic for us,” Gower said.
“I think Semi is really enjoying the now, and that is important for us and for him. If you look to something that hasn’t happened yet, you are going to forget and miss a really good opportunity that we have in front of us over the next 5-6 weeks so Semi is living in the moment which is what we need him to do.”
Gower has been named on the bench for the Blue & Gold line up, but with Beau Scott and Kaysa Pritchard named on an extended bench and their return to the field looming, Gower said he was just happy to be doing his role for the team.
“Beau is due back shortly but I have been fortunate enough over the last few years to play at Parra and I am a very proud Eel and I will step in whenever need be and whenever Brad calls on me to do a job.” Gower said.
“If my job this week is to be 18th man, that’s what I will do with a smile.”
“We have a great group here and any player that gets an opportunity needs to come in and know what they need to do to perform and fill the gap. I am just happy to be doing my part for the team and being part of a good squad.”
With Scott and K. Pritchard returning from injury, and just fullback Clinton Gutherson the lone long term injury on the Eels unavailable list, Gower knows that a healthy and competitive squad is a good headache for Head Coach Brad Arthur to have around this time of year.
“I think it’s a good headache for any coach. At the moment, I think we only have Gutho that is unavailable as at this week/next week so that is a fantastic position.” Gower said.
“You ask a lot of the coaches over the years who have gone on and done well in the Finals series, a healthy squad is needed to win a Premiership and make a good push in September and Brad has that.” He added.
“We have a healthy squad and competition for places keeps everyone on their toes so this healthy competition is fantastic for performance.”
The Eels kick off against the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday 1 September in Round 26 of the NRL Telstra Premiership, kick off at 7:50pm. Click through to purchase your tickets to the clash.