Eels earn 'free throw' against Storm
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur says the fact nobody will give his team a chance against competition favourites Melbourne in Week 1 of the NRL Telstra Premiership Finals means his team can travel south under no pressure.
The Eels mentor says his side can throw everything at the ladder-leaders, with a worst-case scenario being a home final against a team that finished in the bottom half of the eight a week later.
"We're playing Melbourne, we're looking forward to the challenge," Arthur said.
"No-one's going to give us a chance so it's a free throw at the stumps really. If we're allowed to play a little bit of football we might be a chance."
By that Arthur said he hoped for a more free-flowing interpretation from the officials, suggesting the Rabbitohs were allowed to lay in the ruck in the Eels' 22-16 victory at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
The Eels were "patchy" by the coach's own admission in scraping a win against a badly-depleted but energetic Bunnies side, and have a bit to work on to compete with the team that annihilated Souths 64-6 just a week earlier.
 Telstra Premiership - Round 26: Eels vs Rabbitohs
Arthur said he was happy his team cemented a top-four finish and credited the effort of the patched-together South Sydney, but still wanted his team to treat the ball with more respect once finals hit.
"We're happy with where we finished. You don't win 16 games by fluke," Arthur said.
"We've worked hard, got ourselves in a good position. Our performance was patchy [on Friday] but Souths came out and had a red-hot crack and they played for their coach and it was probably exactly what we needed going into next week.
"Three minutes to go, two years ago we would have found a way to throw that away but they came to play.
"We just need a bit more patience and control. We're a team that likes to play footy but we have to know when the footy's on and when it's not."
Arthur outlined some of the things Melbourne do so much better than everyone else as well as the specific areas Parramatta would need to target to try and match it with the minor premiers.
"They tackle well, they work together well, they've got great systems. They're not going to beat themselves," Arthur said.
"We've got to be at our best but you need to complete, you need to be positive with your ball movement and you need to be very good defensively and limit the amount of back-to-back opportunities you give them because if you give them opportunities they make you pay."
Eels skipper Tim Mannah is heading into what will be a first finals series both personally and for the club since the 2009 NRL Grand Final charge in Mannah's debut season.
"It's going to be a good test for us. We put ourselves in the position we're in now and we want to make the most of it," he said, adding the Storm have earned the right to be odds-on favourites next week.
"They've been the best team all year; they've been the benchmark for a number of years so they've earned the right to be the favourites and for everyone to expect them to get the win but we've got a lot of belief in our team and a lot of belief in our group and we'll go about our business and see how we go."
Eels co-captain Beau Scott got through just over 20 minutes in his comeback from a biceps injury and is set to make the trip to Melbourne while hooker Kaysa Pritchard is available in his comeback from a knee injury but was not selected against Souths, with replacement Cam King performing well.
"We had to be disciplined with what our plan was [for Scott]," Arthur said.
"We only wanted to give him 10 minutes either side of half time just to give him some miles in his legs, a couple of tackles and a couple of runs.
"I thought he did a real good job for us defensively either side of half time. It would have been nice if we could have left him there a bit longer but it wasn't the plan and we had to stick to it."