Despite last week’s heartbreaking loss to the Roosters, Parramatta still believe they can win the NRLW premiership but, to prove it, they will have to march into the belly of the beast and live to tell the tale.
- Parramatta could be playing for their NRLW finals hopes against Brisbane on Sunday
- The Eels were tipped as the Broncos’ major challengers for this season but have struggled for consistency
- Forward Kennedy Cherrington says the blue and golds have been anticipating the clash against the Broncos all season
Unless the Roosters can upset the Dragons on Saturday, the Eels will hit the Lang Park turf for their match against Brisbane on Sunday, assured of a place in the semi-finals.
However, after last week’s heartbreaking 19-18 loss to the Tricolours, Parramatta are not looking to limp into the playoffs.
They are still set on making some noise in the title race and they have had this clash with Brisbane circled all season.
“We’ve been looking forward to this one since the beginning,” Eels forward Kennedy Cherrington said.
“They’re the benchmark, but last week shows they are not unbeatable. We have so much respect for them, they’re pioneers, but we want to see how we go against them, to see exactly where we are.
“Our best is still right there. It’s so close. Those little lapses in our game cost us, little things against the Dragons and the Roosters, if we fix those and worry about ourselves and remember we have nothing to lose.”
There have been few good times to play against the Broncos, but Sunday is about as bad a time as the Eels could ask for.
Brisbane will welcome back fullback Tamika Upton and prop Millie Boyle, who both missed last week’s loss to the Titans, and the minor premiership will be up for grabs for the competition favourites.
Throw in the fact it is Brisbane’s sole game at home for the season, so springing an ambush seems a tall order for the Eels.
But Cherrington is adamant the blue and golds can find what it takes to get it done.
“They’re pioneers in the game, so I look up to them. But I want to test myself against them, challenge myself to be better and match them. There’s nothing to lose in my mind, this is just my second season but I want to give it everything I have,” Cherrington said.
“We’ve always said we have nothing to lose. There’s been pressure on us before, but we don’t want to ‘psych’ ourselves out before we play.
“We want to take it all in, that’s what our leadership group focuses on: Take it all in and be proud of how far you have come. Remember this moment.
“Our team has bonded like no other: You ask the other girls, there’s just a different feel about Parra. I don’t know if it’s the individuals, or because of the club, but it’s made it easy for us to come together.
“There’s a lot of youth, energy, excitement and raw talent, it’s just fine-tuning that and bringing together our game plan.”
The Eels were tipped as the team most likely to challenge the Broncos supremacy but the defeat to the Roosters showed the pieces are still coming together for Dean Widders’ side.
Cherrington, the reigning NRLW Rookie of the Year, has had to find her voice in a young side with her big-match experience making her one of the team leaders at just 20 years of age.
The New South Wales representative will be looking to lead from the front in an explosive battle with Boyle and the in-form Chelsea Lenarduzzi.
“My first season with the Roosters I was just taking it all in, this time around [with the Eels] I’ve had to be a leader and set an example,” Cherrington said.
“But it’s been exciting. It was difficult at the beginning, but I don’t sway from who I am. I’m still the same person, and I think that’s what the girls like. I just try to bring the best out of people. You don’t want to change people or the way they play.
“I was really happy with how I went in the All Stars but, with Parra, I think I can still be better. Our seasons are so short it can be hard to build combinations.
“People say I’m being too hard on myself, but I’ve been trying to take each week as it comes.”