The Parramatta Eels are preparing for their do or die elimination Semi Final against the North Queensland Cowboys at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 16 September.
After suffering a 18-16 defeat to the Minor Premiers, the Melbourne Storm last week, Blue & Gold forward Manu Ma’u says whilst tough to lose, the Eels can take plenty of positives and confidence out of the clash.
“It was tough to lose last week. It was a tough game, and a lost opportunity. That’s what that game was.” Ma’u said of the defeat to the Storm.
“But the good thing about it is that we get another chance.”
“We take plenty of confidence out of that game. To be honest, they didn’t beat us we beat ourselves.” He added.
“We will take plenty of confidence out of that game in a big one against the Cowboys this week.”
Ma’u took the loss personally, saying it was his own error in the 63rd minute of the clash, during a crucial part of the game, that saw the Storm extend their lead to beyond a converted try.
But the forward warned that he would have a much improved game this week, looking to make up for last week’s ‘rattled’ performance.
“We had the opportunity to close the game out but the second half, we gave the ball away and some stupid penalties. Especially from me.” Ma’u said.
“The crucial part of the game and I think I gave away that penalty, it changed the game. We were on the back foot with a couple sets on our line and they scored on the fifth and final tackle.”
“When we had the ball and had the opportunity to get into their half, we either passed it forward or dropped the ball and you can’t do that against the Melbourne Storm.” Ma’u added.
“Last week I was a bit rattled. I haven’t played like that in a long time. I have never played like that twice in a row so I am excited this week.” He added.
The Eels are preparing to take on the Cowboys, who came away with a 15-14 extra time victory over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks last week, and Ma’u expects the clash to be a tough challenge.
Led by forward Jason Taumalalo, whose inspirational 259m and try led the side to victory, Ma’u says the Eels forwards will need to be prepared to tackle lock-forward head on.
“They are the Premiers from a couple of years ago. They complete their sets, do their job and they have a good squad (even without Johnathan Thurston). It is going to be a good one this week and one everyone is excited for,” Ma’u said.
“We just have to get into his face and stop him [Jason Taumalolo]. At the end of the day, he is only human.”
“He is a good fella, he was my roomy in the Kiwis set up but it will be exciting to play him. We know what he has to offer, a big boy, runs hard so we just have to match it.” Ma’u added.
Whilst the Eels do not have the biggest forward pack in the competition, Ma’u says the Blue & Gold middle will be prepared to rise to the challenge.
“We are not the biggest forward pack but we stick up for each other on the field, run hard, tackle hard,” Ma’u said.
“We love playing against bigger forward packs because it brings out the best in us. “
“We have a lot to prove. We just have to go out there, do our jobs and play for each other.” He added.
And apart from playing for each other, Ma’u says the side will be determined to play for Head Coach Brad Arthur.
“It’s hard to explain. People always ask me off the field what BA is like and I cant describe it,” Ma’u said.
“He is just a coach you want to play for and when he tells you what to do, you just do it.”
“You don’t question anything, you just do it for him and it shows how much respect we have for a coach like BA.”
The Eels kick off against the North Queensland Cowboys at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 16 September in Week Two of the NRL Finals Series. Kick-off is at 7:40pm.