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Eels props take on finals responsibility

Parramatta’s forwards have declared it’s time for them to deliver constantly for the next month, conceding when they are off the Eels’ performances quickly drop.

The Eels enter the finals with one of the most dangerous packs in the competition, with Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard arguably the best front-row pairing in the NRL this year.

But they are both well aware of their issues around consistency, with the gap between Parramatta’s best and worst threatening their title credentials.

Parramatta’s pack in particular was singled out as an issue as recently as last month by coach Brad Arthur, questioning their lack of physicality after a loss to South Sydney.

They have since responded with both Paulo and Campbell-Gillard topping 150 metres per game in the past fortnight against Brisbane and Melbourne.

“If our middles don’t play well, you can see the performances,” Campbell-Gillard said.

“We can’t have a kind of an off-day or, or an okay-day because it bites us in the arse.

“The games that we’ve lost, we’ve probably had one middle that has been good, but the other two have been shit.

“It’s just making sure that we’re actually doing our job.”

An analysis of Parramatta’s performances this year backs up Campbell-Gillard’s claims.

Where the Eels have won with both in the team, he and Paulo have averaged a combined 285 metres, while in games the pair lost when they played together that number drops dramatically to a combined 194 metres.

Likewise, Paulo has run under 100 metres in all six losses he has played in this year.

However they do enter Friday night’s qualifying final with winning form over Penrith, getting the better of Moses Leota and James Fisher-Harris in both the Eels’ victories this year.

“We know what we’re good at,” Campbell-Gillard said.

“When we go outside that, that’s the performances you see this year. And yeah, then it’s bad.

“If we stick to what we know works, then nine times out of 10 the result pretty much goes our way.”

Nowhere was that more evident than in last month’s flogging from the Rabbitohs, prompting Arthur’s blunt assessment.

Not that the pack needed it.

“We knew it ourselves. We addressed it straight away,” Paulo said.

“As a middle, you don’t want to lose those battles. Fortunately for us, that that’s how we were able to get our season back on track.

“It was just getting back to being the team that we knew we can be.

“We get challenged week in week out to do our job.

“It’s hard being in the front row, when you’re pretty much a battering ram. But if you’ve got a job, that’s your job to do.”

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