The Parramatta Eels are preparing to take on the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Saturday 5 May in Round Nine of the 2018 NRL Telstra Premiership.
The Eels have come away with two victories in the past fortnight, putting an end to their six game losing streak to start the season, and Blue & Gold five-eighth Corey Norman credited the Eels improved discipline over the past two weeks as crucial to how the side has performed.
The Eels came away with a 24-22 victory over the Wests Tigers last week, and Norman said the improved discipline the past fortnight has kept the Blue & Gold in the side.
“There were a few errors in the first half that wasn’t acceptable but earlier on in the season, discipline was massive for us,” Norman said on Big Sports Breakfast this morning.
“We were giving teams leg ups out of their own half and backing that up with errors as well so we were just giving the ball to teams and we weren’t giving ourselves a fair chance of staying in the game.”
“I think it has been the difference in the last two weeks. The discipline and errors, we were giving away penalties, get the ball back and we were giving it straight back to them,” Norman added.
“There is only so much defence you can do before a team runs all over you, so I think the discipline has played a massive part of how we have been going over the last two weeks.”
The Eels are preparing to take on the Sharks at their home ground this week, and Norman knows the importance of continuing their disciplined performance this week.
The Sharks will be without stars Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis and Josh Dugan, with the trio ruled out with injury, but Norman knows that it is in these occasions that the Sharks seem to rise.
The half expects a tough and grinding clash.
“It’s a big opportunity to jump them (with players missing) but I think Sharks play their best when they are like that. They have a few players out but they love that grinding game.” Norman said.
“They did it last week and no doubt they will do it again, but I honestly think when the chips are against the Sharks, they rise so it will be a tough game.”
“If we think it will be an easy win, they will come out and roll us so we definitely have to go out with that grinding mentality.” He continued.
With the Eels claiming two wins in the past fortnight, the performances have also seen co-captain and forward Tim Mannah moving to the bench.
Mannah has had great impact with his new role, returning with 191m from 16 runs and 16 tackles followed by 160m from 15 runs and 23 tackles in his past two performances on the field.
Norman commended Mannah for his approach to the move to the bench.
“It’s hard to judge a lot of our performances for the first six weeks because we all weren’t up to standards, but the last two weeks, Tim has been outstanding.” Norman said.
“Timmy has just gotten back to worrying about his role. He is a very caring person and always wants the best for everyone around him but I think he is really worrying about his role and what he has to do for us off the bench and his game has gone through the roof.”
Norman also had plenty of praise for hooker Kaysa Pritchard.
The rake claimed the ANZAC Medal for his mammoth performance last week and Norman says it was a regular occurrence for his teammate to play well above his weight.
“Kaysa is definitely up there as one of the toughest. I don’t know what is running through is head there, there is a screw loose I think sometimes!” Norman said.
“He is like that at training too, we just have to tell him to settle down a little bit because he has had a few injuries in his career and that is having no respect for his body. He has gotten a lot better but he definitely plays well about his weight each week.”
“Since I have been here, he has gotten better. He has had a few big injuries at training because he is just 100% at training all the time, but that’s a good thing, because you want that, but sometimes you just have to take your foot off the pedal.” He added.
Norman also backed outside back Bevan French, who bounced back with a try in his return to the action last week.
“I think it’s a confidence thing with Bevan,” Norman said.
“His shoulder wasn’t right when he came back and he went looking for the ball last week, and that is when you know when your wingers are on when they come in looking for the ball.”
“He has plenty of improvement to go, but it’s good to have him back.”
The Eels will kick off against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks from Southern Cross Group Stadium at 7:30pm on Saturday 5 May.