Parramatta NRL captain Clint Gutherson has told his teammates to live up to the hype of becoming the first Eels side to win a premiership in more than 30 years.
The league will emerge from its coronavirus lockdown on Thursday night when the season resumes with the ladder-leading Eels facing Brisbane.
Parramatta, impressing with a 2-0 start before the season’s suspension, are widely tipped to challenge for their first title since 1986.
One bookmaker has them only behind Melbourne and Canberra to lift the Provan-Summons trophy in late October, and it’s an expectation Gutherson relishes.
However, the Eels’ fullback also recalled how the club fared the last time they were listed among the favourites just two years ago, only to finish last.
“It’s a good thing to be mentioned,” Gutherson said on Monday.
“(But) we know what happened in ’18, so that wasn’t fun. You have to live up to the pressure if you want to win it. It’s there now.
“As a team, we’ve just got to win games and get (the media) off our back.
“That’s the way we’re looking at it.
“We’ve just got to go out there on Thursday and, hopefully, start again well.
“That can build us into the next couple of rounds and really focus on what we want to do and the style we want to play.”
Front-rower Reagan Campbell-Gillard is only in his first season with the club but is no stranger to being burdened by the weight of expectation.
The former Kangaroos’ representative was part of a Penrith outfit who advanced to three straight semi-finals from 2016 only to bomb out to 10th last year.
Their disappointing campaign coincided with his exit from the club.
“I’ve been part of a team that’s been talked about, (that) this is their year, and things like that. That’s just media trying to write stories,” Campbell-Gillard said.
“I don’t care about the fact that we’re told that this is our year. We’ve just got to actually go out there and do it. Hopefully, it is our year.”