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.
"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.''
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.