The Parramatta Eels are preparing to take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday night (1 September) in the final round of the regular season.
With the Blue & Gold coming off a 52-34 victory over the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium last week, Eels Head coach Brad Arthur says there is still plenty of improvements to make this week.
“On the back of a reasonable performance last week we’ve got a lot of areas in our game that we need to tidy up and that’s probably more our focus than the result at the moment.” Arthur said.
“If we can tidy up those areas you’d like to think we’d give ourselves a very good chance. To leak 34 points is disappointing in Round 25 and especially with 5, 6, 7 minutes to go, we sort of lost focus and concentration and the two try’s were very soft.”
Arthur demands a full 80 minute performance from his side with a focus on being defensively strong, particularly around this time of year and point of the season.
“Obviously we had a look at it and we talked about staying focused and the concentration staying in the game for the full 80minutes. Having a bit more desire about killer instinct.” Arthur said.
“Our defence was good for majority of the game but if you go to sleep for periods of the game against very good teams they’ll put a couple of try’s on you and that’s the disappointing thing.” Arthur added.
“I thought defensively we were aggressive and we forced some errors and sort of changed the course of the game at times. But those lapses aren’t good enough and for the attack, sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t, but it’s always on the back of your mentality on defence.”
The Rabbitohs are coming off a 64-6 defeat to the Melbourne Storm last week, and despite their position on the table, Arthur knows the opposition will be a tough challenge.
“I know they [Souths] had a disappointing performance last week, but up until then I think they won four of their last five.” Arthur said.
“They’ve been playing quite strongly, they’ve got a big strong powerful forward pack and they were matched pretty well regardless of where they sit and what they're playing for.”
“They’re still playing for pride, Souths have got a long history and they’re a proud club.”
The Eels may welcome the return of Beau Scott from a long term bicep injury, and if selected, Arthur said the forward would bring plenty of experience to the side.
“We’ll get through training today and if everything goes to plan we should get some time into them,” Arthur said.
“I don’t think we are in a position that we can afford to be resting players. We haven’t played finals with this group, the more footy for us the better.”
“Beau gives us experience that we don’t have, what he brings to the team in terms of tightening up those defensive lapses. He’ll be good for those periods where we sort of take the foot off the pedal a little bit he’ll sort of make sure that doesn’t happen.” Arthur added.
“If he plays tomorrow we’ll give him a bit of time before half time and after half time. We don’t need to get too much game time into him, just need to get him some running in his legs, make a couple of tackles and make a couple of runs and leave it at that.”
Kaysa Pritchard is also a potential to make his return, however Arthur confirmed hooker Cameron King would still be in the starting line up.
“Cameron’s playing, Cameron will start. He's done a good job, we know Kaysa was doing a good job before he got injured, but that’s footy.” Arthur said.
“When someone goes down there's an opportunity for someone else and Cameron has taken it. We’ve got good depth there and keep every one on their toes.”
Whilst Nathan Brown did not train earlier in the week, Arthur confirmed the 2017 Ken Thornett Medallist would be okay to take the field against his former club.
“He got the award on Monday night and he's put the slippers on hasn’t he! He’s a bit crook, he’ll be alright.” Arthur said.
“We had a bit of a chat to him in preseason set out some things in his game that he need to improve some goals that he wanted to achieve and what sort of footballer he wanted to be. And he’s worked hard at that but in saying that he’s still got a lot of things that he’s got to get right and get on top of.”
“He’s only just played 50 games, he’s only scratching the surface of his career.” Arthur added.
Arthur also had plenty of praise for winger Semi Radradra, who came away with four tries in the Eels victory last week.
“When Semi’s on, he’s on. A lot of teams try and target him or limit the damage that he might do but if you give him a bit of space and time and he’s feeling like playing he’s hard to handle.” Arthur said.
“He knows that he can be a big help for us to take us as far and as deep as we can go in throughout the finals. He’s got it in his head that he wants to do as much as he can before he leaves.”
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.