Parramatta coach Brad Arthur says last year’s pre-finals choke has provided them with the motivation to close out this NRL season on a positive note.
The Eels needed just one win over lowly Newcastle or Canberra in the final fortnight last year to clinch a finals berth, but flopped against both to leave them stewing with regret over the entire summer.
With two games to go this year and his side already out of contention for the top eight, Arthur said it was important the Eels finished the season strongly for their suffering fanbase.
“Pre-season’s a long time. We had a lot of regrets in the pre-season last year in terms of those last two performances,” Arthur said ahead of Saturday night’s clash with Cronulla.
“We’ve got two home games. We haven’t played here since round 16.
“Our fans have been very loyal and stuck by us. We need to put two very strong performances together starting this weekend for our fans.”
The Eels all but ended Manly’s finals fairytale with a shock win at Brookvale last week and can put a dent in Cronulla’s top-four ambitions with a similar upset at Pirtek Stadium.
Bur Arthur insisted he was more focused on repaying their fans.
“It’s got to be about us and pride in our own performance,” he said.
“It’s been a tough year for everyone, (but) our fans haven’t wavered one bit.
“Our players need to show their appreciation with our actions tomorrow.”
Skipper Tim Mannah was named to return for the John Mannah Cup after missing last week’s win with a knee injury but trained for the first time on Friday.
“If he gets through that, he’ll take the field tomorrow,” Arthur said.
“Tomorrow’s game is important to him because it’s a game of footy and he missed last week. It also holds a bit of sentimental value for him as well.”
Arthur refused to comment on recent reports of him taking legal action against the club for allegedly reneging on the figures of his contract extension announced last November.
“I haven’t talked about player contracts, so I’m certainly not going to talk about my own. I hope to get it sorted soon,” he said.
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Cronulla’s 40-18 win over the Wests Tigers last week was the first time they broke the 40-point barrier since 2012
* The Sharks receive a league-high eight penalties per game, while the Eels are awarded an equal-low 5.6 per game
* In their 13 clashes since 2007, the Sharks have led the Eels at halftime on just once
* Eels winger Semi Radradra became just the third player in club history to score more than 20 tries in a season
* Sharks winger Valentine Holmes (16 tries) is within striking distance of becoming the first player in the club’s history to notch 20 tries. David Peachey holds the record with 19 in 1999