Parramatta coach Brad Arthur is confident the Eels can fix their right-side defensive woes as they look for redemption against South Sydney in Saturday’s elimination semi-final.
The Eels’ right-hand side was exposed by Melbourne last weekend, with centre Waqa Blake particularly poor as the men in blue and gold surrendered a 12-0 lead to leak 36 points.
If Parramatta don’t fix their defensive issues, the red-hot Rabbitohs could rack up a big score.
Arthur believes the Eels are ready to shut down Souths and silence their critics with a win to progress to a preliminary final against Penrith.
“We’ve trained a certain way this week and I’m very comfortable with how it (our defence) has been,” Arthur said.
“We can’t go into the game unclear on what we need to do, so that is really important.
“I know our right edge has come under a bit of fire recently, but if you have a look I think we were third or fourth for defence this year.
“We were third for tries scored, but last week (against Melbourne) we had some positional changes after six or seven minutes. We lost winger and we had backrowers playing in the centres.
“We’ve had a good opportunity this week to get those combinations right and we’ll see some nice defensive reads.”
Parramatta will be desperate to beat South Sydney in Saturday’s semi-final after losing to the Rabbitohs, 38-0 back in round 16. Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Souths defeated Parramatta 38-0 back in round 16, so the Eels are determined to make amends.
Arthur concedes his side’s mindset wasn’t up to scratch the last time they faced the Rabbitohs.
“That was the one game this year that we’ve been disappointed with our attitude,” he said.
“I don’t think we had the right attitude to come and roll the sleeves up and play tough footy.”
Arthur knows Parramatta must stop in-form Souths five-eighth Cody Walker to have any chance of winning.
“He (Cody) is going well, and he is playing some really good footy,” he said.
“A lot of that is on the back of what the rest of his team are providing for him.
“They get forward well, they play the ball quickly for him and give him a lot of space and opportunity, so the key for us is trying to limit that opportunity.”
Arthur indicated that winger Blake Ferguson wouldn’t play against Souths if his injured knee isn’t 100 per cent fit.
“We’ve got a good squad and we’ve got plenty of depth, so we need to go with 17 fit players against a very good Rabbitohs team,” he said.
“We have to trust our medical guys, but he (Fergo) hasn’t trained yet. He did a little bit of running on Tuesday, but it wasn’t much.
“We’ve got a few options to come in there and I’m happy with what we’ve got.
“I just wanted to give Fergo the opportunity, but the decision will be taken out of his hands.”
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