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‘He’s a very tough participant’: Arthur weighs in on Storm giant’s lucky escape

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur says he has no issues with Nelson Asofa-Solomona being available for Thursday’s epic clash after the Storm giant was hit with his fifth fine of the season for an elbow on young Roosters star Joseph Suaalii.

Asofa-Solomona’s disciplinary record has been a huge talking point for much of the season, with the hulking prop accruing five grade one charges but not spending any time on the sidelines.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona was fined in Round 3 for a high shot on Makahesi Makatoa.
Camera IconNelson Asofa-Solomona was fined in Round 3 for a high shot on Makahesi Makatoa. Credit: Supplied

It means he’s free to play on Thursday night with the winner set to book their spot in the top four.

The Storm and Eels have history after Felise Kaufusi was suspended last season for a forearm on Ryan Matterson which left the Eels forward laying prone on the turf.

“He’s been cleared to play, so he’s playing and we’re preparing to play against a very tough player,” Arthur said.

“He pushes you hard and he’s very aggressive, and we’re going to have to make sure we’re on our game for him.

“He plays tough. He’s a tough player. My job is certainly not to make the rules. My job is to follow them. He’s been picked so we’ll be playing against him.”

Felise Kaufusi attacked the head of Ryan Matterson last season.
Camera IconFelise Kaufusi attacked the head of Ryan Matterson last season. Credit: The Daily Telegraph

Thursday’s match shapes as Parramatta’s most important of the season as it looks to secure fourth spot and a showdown with the Panthers in the opening week of the finals.

“If someone said at the start of the year that we’d be playing in the last round at CommBank against one of the heavyweights to play for the top four, what more do we want? It’s up to us,” Arthur said.

“They’re in the same situation. They’re going to be desperate for that two points.”

This will be the fourth year in a row the Eels have finished in the top eight, and they head into the game having won their past three against the Storm, while they’ve also won four of their past five matches this season.

Arthur said his side was in a better place than it was in 2021 when it lost an epic encounter to Penrith in the second week of the finals, and he puts the Eels’ recent impressive form down to the senior players taking control.

“They talked very honestly a couple of weeks ago about how they have to take control of how they turn up, and they have,” he said.

“I can’t take any credit for that. We can give them a plan, but it’s up to them to follow it and it’s up to them to turn up with the right intent and mentality.”

 

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