The Parramatta Eels take on the Melbourne Storm in Week One of the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series at AAMI Park on Saturday 9 September.
With the side preparing to return to the Finals arena, the first time since their 2009 run that saw them reach the Grand Final, Blue & Gold centre Brad Takairangi said there is plenty of excitement and confidence from the Eels squad heading into this week’s Qualifying Final.
With not much previous Finals experience amongst the squad, Takairangi says the side are focusing on preparing for this week’s clash, like any other game this season.
“It has been a good finish to the year and we now looking forward to the Finals series this week.” Takairangi said.
“This is going to be my first Finals experience; I think there are only 4-6 of the boys who have actually played finals. We are all excited as a group and we can’t wait.”
“We are looking at this as another game, yes it’s Finals, but we are taking this as another game and all the boys are confident.” He added.
Takairangi knows that there is no bigger test than the Melbourne Storm at their home ground but there is plenty of confidence amongst the Blue & Gold squad.
“They are the top of the ladder for a reason and have been the best team by far this year. But we are very excited, excited to get down there and give them a good challenge.”
“Nobody is going to give us a chance down there, but the belief we have amongst the squad and the unity we have here as a squad, we are very confident.”
“I don’t see it as mission impossible. It is going to be a big challenge but it is something that we are definitely up for.” Takairangi added.
Whilst the Eels attack has clicked over the last week, Takairangi says it is the side’s defence that will be more important this weekend.
“Semi has been on fire, but there are other things that we can clean up in defence. He has been getting all the wraps, and deservedly so with his attack, but we have to be better defensively because we know they will throw a lot of shape at us,” Takairangi said.
“I think if we can defend well, our attack comes naturally. If we can be good defensively our attack will come off the back of that.”
“They have threats all over the park, but we are so confident in our structures and our defence that whatever they throw at us, hopefully we can shut it down,” he added.
“I don’t think there is a bigger test than playing Melbourne in Melbourne. Especially after the form they have shown this year, they have been excellent, but we cant wait to get down there and give them a good challenge.”
And despite taking on the in form Storm with the media and public ‘not giving the Eels a chance’, Takairangi says the Blue & Gold are confident they can come away with the victory.
“We are very confident we can go down there and do a job.” Takairangi said.
“I would like to get down there and hopefully we can spoil the party.”
“A lot of people are not giving us a chance, but we are very confident that if we can play to the best of our ability, we will be there in the end.” He added.
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.