The Parramatta Eels take on the Melbourne Storm this afternoon in their Qualifying Final of the 2017 NRL Telstra Finals Series at AAMI Park.
Previewing the game thanks to betting.club, Blue & Gold Assistant Coach Steve Murphy says it is an exciting time for the Eels, who return to the Finals arena for the first time since 2009.
“It’s an exciting time at the Club. You start in late October/early November and it’s all for these sort of games.” Murphy said.
“For us to be there, and have an opportunity to play against definitely the best team of the competition to this point, it is real exciting for the Club and for the team.”
“We definitely look towards guys that have been there at this time of year. You definitely call on their wisdom and their knowledge and everything they have learnt from,” Murphy added.
“This is a team that has forged their own way there and we are really excited about what they are going to do on the big stage. I don’t think it is something that they will be over roared by, they know they are playing a quality team who they have the utmost respect for, we are just excited to be playing a big game.”
The Eels came away with a 22-6 victory over the Storm in Round 18 of the NRL Telstra Premiership, the last time the Storm suffered a defeat this season, but Murphy knows that the clash will be a much different proposition this week.
The last time they met, the Storm were without their Origin stars who boast plenty of dangers.
“You take a couple of players out of any team and they are going to be weakened and you put the class of Smith, Slater and Cronk, not to mention Munster, Chambers etc, you are going to be a much more formidable side,” Murphy says.
“But as I said, our group is a respectful group of our opposition but also excited about playing them. We want to see where we are at as a football team and as a Club.”
“The thing about Melbourne is that they are testing you on every play, where as most teams will have one shot at you in a set of six. Melbourne will test you every play the ball, sideline to sideline, their attack (I think) is very much improved this year.” Murphy added.
“You have to make sure you are defending every play and that can be quite taxing, so you have to make sure you are not making too many efforts in the set.”
In their last clash, Semi Radradra was back to his attacking best as he came head to head with Storm’s dangerous winger, Suliasi Vunivalu, and Murphy expects another big performance from the winger.
“I think they will have a clear plan on what they want to do with their kicks and I don’t think they will kick to Semi as much as they did last time,” Murphy says of the Storm game plan.
“I think they will try race off the line, get into his legs and hold him up and those sort of things so we will have to put some support around Semi and let Semi do his stuff.”
Down in hostile territory, the Eels supporter bays selling out earlier in the week, and the Blue & Gold’s first Finals appearance since 2009, Murphy knows that the support from the loyal Members and fans will be important and play a big part.
“Even when we played them last time, it was a vocal crowd. It is a real amphitheatre down there, AAMI Park, it is very loud and I am sure we will hear and see the Blue & Gold faithful in their bay wherever they will be.”
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.