Parramatta coach Brad Arthur is bracing for another right edge onslaught without hobbled winger Blake Ferguson, who he says won’t get a vote on his own availability for Saturday’s NRL semi-final.
Ferguson aggravated a knee injury in last week’s finals loss to Melbourne and has barely run all week, with Friday’s captain’s run the final chance to prove his fitness to face a red-hot South Sydney.
Arthur won’t let the veteran’s voice carry any weight though, confident their patched-up backline can cope without him if necessary.
“Ferg wants to play, but we’ll be taking that decision out of his hands,” the coach said.
“We need 17 fit players against a very good Rabbitohs team and we’ve got to trust our medical guys.”
The Rabbitohs’ 349 points since round 12 is the most the club has amassed over a 10-week period, with a 38-0 defeat of the Eels built on pressuring the Eels’ edge.
The Eels have conceded 46 per cent of their tries down the right edge this season while Souths’ left edge attack is statistically their most potent weapon.
“I know our right edge has come under fire a bit recently but if you have a look at it I think we were third or fourth in defence this year for tries scored against us,” he said.
“And these are not excuses, just reasons (in last week’s loss), we lost a winger, had backrowers playing in the centres … it’s hard against a really good team like Melbourne when you’re making changes like that.
“We have been working hard to get those combinations right and I’m sure we’ll see some nice defensive reads.”