Eels get fast and furious at training
PARRAMATTA coach Brad Arthur was forced to intervene to stop an aggressive Eels training session turning ugly as his players unleashed six weeks of pent-up frustration on each other.
The volatile Saturday session came ahead of Thursday's blockbuster return to action against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
"They are the sessions as a coach when you say, 'F---, when do I need to pull this up'?," Arthur said. "The biggest thing is knowing when enough is enough and not going too far and putting them at risk of injury."
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Arthur told the reserve players who missed selection for Round 3 to rip into the current squad during an opposed session at the club's Kellyville headquarters.
And with the collision intensity rising, Arthur would call for a scrum or blow a plenty to "take the heat out of it".
"The reserves weren't there being puppets for the NRL boys," Arthur said. "It was all controlled but it wasn't two-handed touch - put it that way. It was as close you can get without actually playing."
Parramatta, unbeaten in the opening two games, travel to Brisbane for a one-day hit-and-run match to restart season 2020 on Thursday night.
Arthur's squad has been caged for the past six weeks with players letting fly ahead of the Broncos showdown.
"The intensity was through the roof," Arthur said.
"They were ripping into each other - it wasn't far off a game. It was fair dinkum and it was getting all competitive. There was plenty of intent there. I blew a penalty, packed a scrum or made a change to how it's flowing to take the heat out of it.
"When it's flowing back and forth and you're standing back letting it go, and the intensity is picking up and picking up with every run, every tackle, every set, you have to take the heat out of it.
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"We had discussions with those players who missed out and we told them - 'try and beat us, when we're doing our opposed stuff, try and show us up'. We want to give our reserve grade boys some responsibility.
"They haven't played for a long time and they are all competitive buggers, especially our blokes that aren't picked in the team. We encourage it - that's what we want our reserve grade boys to do.
"Their best way to impress me for selection is what they do at training. They aren't there going through the motions and being puppets for the NRL boys. It was their way of saying: 'Give us a chance'.
"There are plenty of blokes there willing and wanting a spot. There is no reserve grade for them to push their case. It was their way of showing they are worthy of an opportunity."
The overlooked players will run the identical plays as opponents Brisbane at another opposed training session on Monday.
"They have the job of being the Brisbane Broncos. They will run the same plays as the Broncos and defend the same," Arthur said. "Some of their players defend a certain way so we will get our boys to defend like that."
Parramatta will fly out of Bankstown Airport just after noon on Thursday on a charter flight and return to Sydney at around 2am on Friday.
"The transition is really good. You just pull up, the boys just go with backpacks, the bus pulls up alongside the plane and we go straight to the ground," Arthur said. "We plan on being there three hours before kick-off.
"About an hour and a half before kick-off we will go to the sheds and start our normal preparations.
"After the game, we will do our recovery and then the bus takes you straight to the plane and you leave straight away. You're not waiting around to check bags in. It's actually 10 minutes from when you pull up at the airport until you're on the plane."
Parramatta players will have a recovery session later on Friday in Sydney to start preparing for a round four game against Manly at Bankwest Stadium.
Eels forward Nathan Brown remains suspended and will be replaced for the Broncos game by Marata Niukore.