Mannah feels Eels fans' finals excitement
Ahead of his historic 200th NRL appearance, Eels skipper Tim Mannah is relishing the chance to feature in what will be his first finals campaign since his 2009 debut season and is glad to see long-suffering Eels fans excited again too.
While coach Brad Arthur continues to do his best to manage expectations around the club's impending first finals appearance in eight seasons, Mannah sees little harm in enjoying the ride.
"The buzz is starting to grow a bit and I love seeing the fans get excited about their footy," Mannah said.
He admitted this Friday's game against Newcastle – the first time this year a 6pm Friday game will be played at ANZ Stadium – was "a bit of a difficult time slot" transport-wise but encouraged as many blue and gold fans as possible to take up coach Brad Arthur's advice and try to leave work early to head to the game.
"The more support we can get there the better because we want them to be as excited as us and the more get there the better we play," Mannah added.
Of his milestone match, he said it had been "a huge honour and to be able to do it at this place I'm very passionate about, I consider myself very fortunate."
With nine wins from their past 10 matches at ANZ, the Eels are starting to feel comfortable with the venue as their home fortress.
"We've actually embraced it, we've got a good record there at the moment," he said.
"When there's a big crowd it's awesome which is why we want to encourage fans to turn out."
Mannah said the excitement of a return to September football was beginning to take hold after eight years out.
"My first year [in 2009] I remember thinking 'how good's this, we'll play Grand Finals every year!'" Mannah laughed.
"It's been eight years since so a long break between but I've got no problem with the fans getting excited, we're excited about our footy as well."
Mannah concurred with comments last week made by teammate Michael Jennings that the team needed to accept most of their games in the run home will see them start as favourites and embrace that while being careful not to underestimate their opponents.
"I think we've got to learn to deal with it [being favourites]," Mannah said.
"In the past we've been pretty poor at winning games we should win so I think it's important we understand that ok, there's going to be games that we are favourites but that doesn't mean we change our preparation or change the way we go into a game, we still have to turn up with the right attitude to get the job done."