Confident Eels doing it for Arthur
Eels players say the side's confidence is building after three wins in their past four starts and are glad to be able to repay under-fire coach Brad Arthur for his hard work so far this year.
Arthur has been in the headlines over the past fortnight as he attempted to re-negotiate terms with incoming star Kieran Foran following contract issues coming to light, and players say while you'd never know the coach was under pressure from his demeanour, they're glad to be finally getting some positive results to ease the pressure on him.
"He's been fine to be honest, you wouldn't know [anything is going on]," Eels prop Danny Wicks told NRL.com.
"He's got a pretty good poker face old 'BA', and he knew he had the full support of the boys which makes it a bit easier."
Wicks said the side hadn't felt any additional pressure other that the week-to-week expectations of playing in the NRL.
"Every week we had a built of pressure built up with things on and off the field, we needed to perform and were able to string a few together," he said.
"The key point [from the win against the Dragons last week] was 'D', we just scrambled for each other and kept turning up and that's what they've built their season on and we're doing the same thing."
Wicks warned the 12th-placed Eels have plenty of improvement left in them.
"Considerably, yeah. You'd be kidding yourself to say there's not and I think every team's in the same boat," he said.
"No-one's peaked yet and if they have they're in a bit of trouble. We've got a lot of improvement to go, a considerable amount, it's just about putting it onto the field."
Eels forward David Gower angrily refuted suggestions there is any sort of crisis at the club despite constant media speculation, saying a couple more wins in their close games in the face of a horror injury toll would have the side comfortably placed within the top eight at this stage.
"It's gone unspoken about, people bagging us for where we are on the ladder," he said.
"Realistically, we lost a game against the Warriors because we couldn't kick a goal [in golden point in Round 10, despite outscoring their opponents three tries to two in regular time], and gave up a 30-point lead against the Cowboys [in Round 13]."
Wins in those two games and one against Souths, where the side gave up a 12-10 lead with a 74th-minute try, would have the side in equal third rather than 12th, so close is the competition.
"So we're not going as bad as the media make out, that's the frustrating part. We know that as a group and as a unit and we know in those games we lost, we lost for a reason and there's things we need to improve but we're confident where we're at as a squad.
"Our injury toll, we had 14 unavailable on the weekend, that's half your squad. We're going alright, we're comfortable with the squad we've got and the depth we've got. Getting Manu [Ma'u] back's going to be great because he's having a great season for us and he's getting better every game.
"We've got a few more boys that aren't far away from coming back and if we can just stay in touch with the ladder and make sure we keep playing good footy and improving we're very confident in the squad we've got and what we can achieve here.
"The boys love playing for Brad, Pete and Murph [head coach Brad Arthur and assistant coaches peter Gentle and Steve Murphy].
"We bust ourselves every week for each other and the coaching staff. That's all we can continue to do. The speculation, it's just what happens at Parramatta. The media love a circus around our club. We just focus on what we can control and us playing well for each other and the club and Brad."