Eels mentally ready for NRL finals push

Parramatta centre Michael Jennings admits the Eels weren't ready before their NRL finals flop two years ago and believes an early-week camp can help solve that in 2019.
Parramatta, who crashed out in straight sets in 2017, kick off just their second finals series in a decade against Brisbane on Sunday at Bankwest Stadium.
The Eels have taken a different approach with their lead-in this year, making the most of a nine-day turnaround following last week's win over Manly.

Players headed to the Central Coast for an overnight camp on Sunday and Monday, before having Tuesday and Wednesday off training ahead of a Thursday return.
While the team trained during the camp, they also played rounds of golf with the main focus to refresh and set an agenda before finals.

"Two years ago we made the finals and lost two games going into the finals," Jennings told AAP at the NRL Finals launch.
"We wanted to get together (in camp) and talk about what's expected.
"It's a tighter group (in 2019). We're just enjoying this moment, that's what we're doing.

"It just feels like there is not a lot of pressure going into the finals."
Parramatta were the headline team of the 2017 finals series given their long absence, but failed to land a punch when it mattered.
They were beaten by Melbourne at AAMI Park in week one, before crashing out against eighth-placed North Queensland at home.
"It was just unexpected. That playing group didn't really have much experience playing finals footy," Jennings said.

"We went with with the motions and treated it as if it was another game.
"It's not another game, it's finals footy and it's a different comp. We're treating it differently this year."
Eight players remain from the Eels' doomed campaign in 2017, having also endured the disappointment of last year's wooden spoon.
If they are to succeed in the finals series, they will be the first team since Western Suburbs in 1934 to go from last place to premiers in the space of a season.
They also have the advantage of the new Bankwest Stadium as a home ground this season, where they have won eight of their 10 games this season.
"Physically we're all ready. We just need to prepare mentally," Jennings said.

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  • This is a whole new type of game. Elimination-----massive meaning to the year's effort. I always remember our Grand final against the Knights 20 minutes and 20 nil against us. Obviously we were not mentally prepared for the big stage. I wonder what effort has been made---Have we learnt anything from 2017 to help address this Elimination Final. Controlled aggression and no place to freeze at any stage in the game. Play too safe and you lose momentum and an expansive playing style. If you let frustration creep into the game you get sloppy. Lots of other professional input needed to help out in self-belief, personal disciplines and be free with expressing all your talents.Difficult combo to get right

    • Mennings comment above about it not being another game is spot on. 

      2001 I was at the at the public event for the GF and Brian Smith was talking to a TV crew (channel 9 I think) and he said that it was just another game.

      Then we lose the unlossable GF in the first 20 mins

      Let's hope they are right mentally, because all teams have the playing group it's the prep and mentality that will be the difference

      • That game really showed the weakness that was inherint in Smith and his coaching, I remember Harrigan commenting after the game, that the knights knew they were on for a win when the saw the eels come in to the GF breakfast and the lot of them were tense.  As I reflect on those days, I believe Smith had them in an almost fear attitude especially in regard to tactics, he used to use a stats board at half time to show the players tactics to use, for most of them they just wanted to get out and play but Smith had them on an edge, only had to hear him in an interview as to how he was also tense, typical school teacher who treated his players as kids.

        Despite the eels coming back in the second half it was a post too far, they played the 2nd half in the way they should have played in the first.

        The problem today though is that the teams in front of us and the last 4 are good enough to get enough points on the board in first half and then play containment in the 2nd.

        • when you get tense you can,t hear---as soon as the steam roller takes effect you freeze

        • To be fair to BS, if he had them prepped that way for the rest of the year, it was definitely working.

          • PP, we are talking about the Grand Final, last game of the year, not the first game or first in the 2nd half of the season.

            • If you’ve prepped a team in a particular way all year, and broken a bunch of records along the way, you’d be a fool to change it up for a GF.

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