They are the hottest team in the NRL with seven wins in a row but veteran back-rower Nathan Hindmarsh says he won’t consider Parramatta to be premiership contenders unless they can knock over the Dragons on Friday night.<br><br>Despite their remarkable surge from cellar-dwellers to top-eight certainties, Hindmarsh was today quick to play down his side’s title chances, insisting the trip to WIN Jubilee Oval loomed as the toughest game of the season.<br><br>“If we beat St George [Illawarra] we’ll know that we can give the comp a decent shake,” Hindmarsh told NRL.com.<br><br>“Until then we can’t think we’re contenders – we’ve been battling away for the past seven weeks.<br><br>“We’ve come up against some teams that haven’t really been in great form and Saints are still the best team in the comp.<br><br>“I do think we’re a chance but I wouldn’t say we’re going to win it just yet.”<br><br>Asked his thoughts on the Dragons’ recent slump which has seen them lose three games in a row at the wrong end of the season, Hindmarsh said: “They’re still a top-quality side. <br><br>“They’ve been a bit complacent the past few weeks but they won’t be complacent against us.<br><br>“They’ve been on top of the comp all year and they know the semis are coming up so they’re probably just saving a bit in the tank. <br><br>“I’m sure they would have liked to have won the minor premiership but once the finals actually hit they’ll be back into gear.”<br><br>That Parramatta are even in the finals race is amazing given that seven weeks ago they were languishing in 14th spot and a full five points out of the top eight.<br><br>Their dramatic turnaround now has them destined for the finals, with an eighth consecutive win this Friday propelling them as high as fifth on the NRL ladder and a probable second chance should they slip up the following week.<br><br>“And that’s important for us,” Hindmarsh said.<br><br>“If we could get up to the higher end it would be better for us but we just want to win to keep our roll going. <br><br>“It’s the last competition round so we want to keep that momentum going in the build-up to the semis.”<br><br>Hindmarsh is no stranger to finals football but the Eels’ late-season charge poses a fresh challenge for the 29-year-old who admits the side has choked at crucial times in the past.<br><br>In 1998 – the year he made his NRL debut – Parramatta led the Bulldogs 18-2 in the grand final qualifier with 11 minutes remaining before falling in extra time; 12 months later they lost the corresponding game despite being hot favourites against eventual premiers Melbourne and in 2001 they collapsed in the grand final against Newcastle after dominating all year.<br><br>They also capitulated 29-0 against North Queensland one game away from the 2005 decider.<br><br>But Hindmarsh said confidence was high this time around, with the Eels finding form at the right end of the season.<br><br>“It’s different,” he said. “I’m hoping people are taking notice of us and thinking ‘oh I hope we don’t play the Eels’ rather than looking forward to getting stuck into us. <br><br>“It’s good to have this momentum going. <br><br>“We weren’t so good at the start of the year but hopefully we’ve peaked at the right time and it keeps continuing.”<br><br>Hindmarsh said history had taught him that finishing higher up on the ladder and earning a week off during the finals was often a curse rather than a blessing.<br><br>“I’m one of those ones who thinks: ‘Do you want to have the week off or do you want to keep going?’,” he said. <br><br>“Personally I’d like to keep going. <br><br>“As much as I like the idea of sitting there waiting for someone, I like to play every week, keep everything going and keep the same routine.<br><br>“But we can’t get ahead of ourselves. <br><br>“We haven’t won anything. <br><br>“There is a lot of hype around us coming from where we have because no-one had given us a chance but we’re just doing what we need to do.”
You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.