Brad Arthur whisked his Eels away for a two-day training camp on the Central Coast over the weekend and then gave them two extra days off in an attempt to shake up his finals preparations and avoid a straight-sets exit like 2017.
Parramatta players stayed at the Pullman Magenta Shores Resort where they did a recovery session, enjoyed a private dinner and watched big Junior Paulo and Brad Takairangi carve up the local golf course.

In a candid admission, Arthur said he ''could have done a few things better'' in 2017.
"The purpose was to refocus on a new, exciting competition and move on from what has or hasn’t happened up until this point," Arthur said.
I reflected on our last semis in 2017 – my first – and thought I could have done a few things better with our preparation.
Brad Arthur
"The focus was on how we need to play for 80 minutes and what our game looks like, and not on who or where we are playing. Every team has earned their right to play finals. Nothing is a given.
"I reflected on our last semis in 2017 – my first – and thought I could have done a few things better with our preparation."

That season Parramatta charged home to finish fourth and pushed Melbourne all the way in their own back yard in week one of the finals before they were stunned by North Queensland in week two. This season they will not get a second chance.

Centre Michael Jennings told the Herald that Arthur had learned not to treat September like another club game.
"We had a team meeting, played a bit of golf and then had dinner together,'' said Jennings, as he helped launch the NRL finals on Kayo.
"Brad was talking about what our week was going to look like and what to expect.

"Two years ago we made the finals and treated it like another game. But it wasn't really another game.
"We had the team two years ago, but mentally we weren't prepared for finals footy. We want to be mentally prepared this time.
"We want to do everything possible to win. We don't want any regrets going into this finals series.
"I know any team can win from the eight. You're a better chance when you're in the top four, but the best defensive sides going into the finals series will win the comp.''
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Jennings said the Eels class of 2019 was better than 2017, and Maika Sivo was essentially a straight swap on the left wing for fellow Fijian flyer Semi Radradra. Jennings told the Herald on the weekend that Sivo, 25, who is only in his first year of the NRL, ''can definitely be as good as Semi, if not better''.

"We've got Maika – I call him 'Bula' – a team that is physically ready, but mentally is the big one I think where we've changed. Everyone is in the right place mentally, and we're giving ourselves the best chance to make it a long way,'' Jennings said.

"It's good we got away early in the week, then had two days off to get away from footy. Thursday will be all about footy. The long turnaround also allowed us to get away.''
As for stopping the Broncos at a packed Bankwest Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Jennings said: "Their forward pack is where we can shut them down. If we win the battle, it will get us close to the win."
The Broncos loss to the Bulldogs dropped them to eighth and the daunting road trip to Bankwest, where the Eels have only lost twice since taking up permanent residency at Easter.

Fiery lock forward Nathan Brown was named in the Parramatta No.13 jersey after serving a two-match ban for a shoulder charge on Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

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  • I think we talked a lot about that Colin at the end of last year when many of us had doubts about whether BA had it in him to learn from past misfortunes and if he had any desire or drive to work on his own ability to take his coaching to another level. People learn at different paces and can slug away aimlessly not knowing what else they can do and sometimes different dynamics eg players or assistants can trigger off a growth spurt. I like it when people are never happy with their results even if they win everything going around. You never should be content with your performance and should be hungry to keep reaching to a new level all the time. You need good people around you as well as the nouse to work things out to get better and better all the time. I am looking forward to seeing this weeks game as it really is a big test for all our coaching staff.It is not all about skill development --it is knowing how and when to use those skills. Reading a game and adapting to different scenarios is a key part of coaching and having players respond is the big test on field.Lets hope it is all good 

    • Good post Tad, while I believe there has been some good changes with the team and players, I still see one flaw in him and it can be also a positive in some ways when all is said and done, and that is his loyalty to players.  
      He really has stuck firm generally regarding his team/player selections and while it has worked up to a point, his reticence to drop some of them despite their poor showings for weeks on end, I believe has not been ideal, sure in most cases we have still won games but, we could well have done better with some changes on the bench.

      I am somewhat concerned that we may actually lose a couple of our better young players as a result of the bench selections. I just hope I am wrong in that dept.

  • It is much easier to learn errors in your practices when winning, much harder when you are in charge of a team performing above their ability which is the case with the Eels in 2017 

    There efforts in Melbourne in 2017 were noteworthy in that they took the Grandfinalists to the limit and were possibly ultimately beaten by a poor refereeing decision.

    Unfortunately the bench selection was dubious going into the game against the Cowboys. When Alvaro was injured in the first 5 minutes the poor selection of the bench was exposed . The problem was a lack of size on the bench. This eventuated due to playing two hookers in the seventeen 

    Had more quality been available to load the bench a different policy may have been used to select the bench. Current recruitment practices are now better and given our performance this year some of our other coaching has improved as a result of the poor outcomes of the last couple of seasons. 

    Learning outcomes are being achieved 

    • Good post John, my concern for Sunday is the loss of Evans and who replaces him, I don't have any confidence in either Tepai or Peni, being able to fill the gap, the hope is that Alvaro can produce his best game of the year, we really need a mobile and big player on the bench, I would love to see Stefano or Kafusi given the spot.

      • Agree Colin. Any match reports from the Wenty game. How did that pair go in the game on the weekend 

        • John there was reports on NSWRL site but cannot find it now here is link to last weeks match, and scorers

          Panthers v Magpies - Finals Week 1, 2019 - Match Centre
          Penrith Panthers NSW Cup versus Wentworthville Magpies match centre includes live scores and updates. Includes official live player and team stats. R…
          • There was a match report on but basically talked about the try scorers.

            According to the NSWRL website stats the best of the Eels forwards were Mannah and Utoikamanu.

  • BA should use the Evans suspention as a plus with a 80 minute passion effort. Sivo qiuet style defense hits with full mental discipline in technique.Convert anger with disciplined effort. If it is aclose game and we lose with a poor bias ref performance we need to get other ref frustrated clubs on board and have a people power response

  • I Still remember BA’s presser from that 17 finals loss to the cowboys & BA promised we would learn from that loss & be better for it. Look at what happened next. So I’m still not sold on him or the team learning from it until they actually do! Watch this space

  • BA needs a finals win, the CV is looking bare

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