Parramatta coach Brad Arthur will be watching closely to see how his men respond to the rare five-day break afforded to them ahead of their NRL clash with Canterbury.
Arthur said last week’s bye came at the right time for the Eels (fifth, 8-4), whose four previous games had been decided by eight points or less.
But while he used the schedule to give his players time off, he will be quick to withhold similar privileges in future if the zip they’ve shown since returning to training isn’t reflected on Monday at Accor Stadium.
“The standard of footy’s better this year; all of the games we’ve had to play for the full 80 and grind it out,” Arthur said.
“The boys have earned the right … they’ve come back nice and fresh and we need to see the results of that with our enthusiasm come Monday.
“We haven’t don’t that, five continuous days (off) before, so we’ve given it a shot but we need to see the results of it through the enthusiasm and effort.”
Bulldogs forward Ava Seumanufagai has been ruled out due to a calf strain, with Chris Patolo promoted to the starting line-up.
But Mick Potter will have the services of Tevita Pangai, who has proved his fitness and will come off the bench after being ruled out last week with an aggravated disc.
The Eels’ State of Origin trio Junior Paulo, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Ryan Matterson have all been named to back up, while winger Maika Sivo will play his first NRL game since an ACL tear last year.
“I feel ready; the knee is good, played a couple of games in (NSW) Cup and pulled up all right after the game, so I’m ready to go,” said Sivo, who scored six tries in three NSW Cup games since his return.
“I’m looking forward to my first run, my first 10 minutes, just to get through that and see how it goes.”
Arthur said Sivo would make a difference, even if he wasn’t at his bullocking best just yet.
“He’s ready to go … he needs to get back out there and just play at that next level so we have him ready when we need him,” he said.
“He’s a big body, hard to handle and that’ll help us out of the back-field.”
Arthur said Dylan Brown, named at No.6, was expected to play despite wearing a moon boot this week to protect a rolled ankle.