The Parramatta Eels are preparing to take on the Melbourne Storm in the Qualifying Final at AAMI Park this Saturday 9 September.
The Eels have a relatively young squad for clash, with many players never experiencing Finals football, and winger Kirisome Auva’a is calling on his past experiences to guide the Blue & Gold into the pointy end of the year.
Auva’a was part of the successful 2014 South Sydney Rabbitohs Premiership side, under Head Coach Michael Maguire, and the winger says there are plenty of similarities in the 2014 campaign compared to this year’s run by the Eels.
“What we have said here at the Blue & Gold over the last few weeks, was nothing different that what was being said at the Rabbitohs a few years back,” Auva’a said.
“Everything we have done now, compared to that year, is pretty similar.”
“The feeling around the Club, it’s obviously an exciting time for the boys.” Auva’a added when asked of what was similar.
“Most of them it’s their first time in the Finals and there is not much I can say to motivate them. They are obviously excited and we just to play off them.”
“We just have to play the moment and don’t let the moment ride you. That was the biggest thing that I took out of my first Finals campaign that year.” He continued.
The Eels are returning to the Finals arena for the first time since 2009, with Auva’a saying the side has prepared well to take on the Minor Premiers.
“The feeling has been exciting this week. We started the week off really good with a couple of training sessions and we are going to take that into Melbourne this Saturday,” Auva’a said.
“We just have to stick to our game plan, complete our sets, hold the ball and start with a lot of energy.” Auva’a added.
“We just have to play like we have played all year, its no fluke that we finished in a Top Four spot. We just have to stick to our guns.”
Auva’a said the Eels will be looking for another quick start, similar to their victory over the Brisbane Broncos two weeks ago, where the Eels jumped out to a 30-10 lead after the first forty minutes, but the side would need to be much improved in defence.
Auva’a knows that if the Eels provide the Storm with opportunities, they opposition will make them pay.
Whilst they head into the clash with plenty of confidence after a victory over the Storm earlier in the season, he knows it will be a much different opposition with the inclusion of their Origin stars.
“That game [when we beat them earlier in the year], they obviously didn’t have their big three so it will be a lot different game come this Saturday.” Auva’a said.
“As long as we can nullify what they do, we will give ourselves a chance to win the game.”
“Our defensive efforts in our second half in the Broncos game wasn’t good enough, and if we dish that up again, it probably won’t be the same result. We have to play fast and continue that right to the last minute.”
The Eels kick off against the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park on Saturday 9 September in Week One of the NRL Finals Series. Kick off is at 4:10pm.