The Parramatta Eels are preparing to take on the North Queensland Cowboys in an elimination Semi Finals clash at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 16 September.
After suffering a 18-16 defeat to the Melbourne Storm last week, Blue & Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur says the side has responded straight away, with a professional attitude at training this week.
“We have had a good week at training, we never have any issues with how we train. I have said it before that in the past we have been a professional training outfit and we have started to take what we do on the training paddock onto the field,” Arthur said.
“Our boys have been good, I haven’t noticed anyone that has tried to put the slippers on or take it easy this week.” Arthur added.
“We have had a full week of training like we usually do and I hadn’t really though of it backing off. We are a team that likes to work hard and that’s how we like to play.”
The Storm had lost only four games during the regular 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership season, but Arthur says ill-discipline last week cost the Eels from earning themselves a straight progression through to the elimination final.
However the Head Coach knows they will still take plenty of confidence out of the defeat.
“We were happy with our energy and intensity and we stuck to our plan for the majority but some ill-discipline really hurt us and it was a probably a game that we put a lot into, putting ourselves into a position to win that game and our disappoint is that we probably cost ourselves that game due to our own ill-discipline.” Arthur said.
“They are the best team in the competition this year and we get a bit of confidence knowing that we could match it with them for long periods of the game, but against a team like the Melbourne Storm you have to play for 80 minutes.” Arthur added.
When asked whether the emotion got the better of the team, Arthur said it was something the side has addressed moving forward.
“It’s the same, whether it’s this week or last week, penalties or a missed tackle, we have our review, we deal with it and move on.” Arthur added.
“We just need to make sure it doesn’t happen again. No one goes out there deliberately to do things that hurt the team, sometimes the emotion takes over, and that’s where we have to be a bit calmer and smarter and not let the occasion get the hold of us.”
“We spoke about the intensity and emotion, and I think sometimes the emotion and the occasion got the better of us and we lacked a little bit of control at times with our aggression. Really we paid the price for it,” Arthur added.
“We have talked about it, addressed it, but now we have to do something about it.”
However he knows there will be plenty of emotion from his side this week.
“It’s Semi Finals football. Whilst we don’t have a great experience in that format of the game, if we can’t get excited and don’t want to put our best foot forward we don’t deserve to be there.”
The Eels will take on a North-Queensland Cowboys side who came away with a tough extra-time victory over the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks last week.
Arthur says the side will not be taking them lightly.
“The Cowboys have showed they are a tough, gritty team and if anyone wants to take them lightly, last week might have been an example of where the Cowboys think where they are at, their confidence and their belief,” Arthur said.
“The Cowboys hang in there and hang in there. It was a tough win by the Cowboys, and if you look at all the games they have won this year, they have all been built on the same thing. They are a very disciplined side, they like to control possession and make sure they are dictating the terms.” He added.
“If you give them 50-60% possession like they had the other night, we are going to make it hard on ourselves.”
Cowboys lock-forward Jason Taumalolo was inspirational in the side’s victory last week, and Arthur say the side will need to stick to it’s defensive principles to contain the damaging ball-runner.
“Taumalolo is a threat. I don’t know if you can stop him, you just have to limit the damage he can do,” Arthur said.
“He carries the ball hard, carries it aggressive, can break tackles, so he is a handful. We just have to make sure we stick to our defensive principles and try contain him the best we can.”
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.