Eels wary of depleted Broncos - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels wary of depleted Broncos

By Steve Jancetic 30/06/2011 07:19:23 PM Comments (0)

Insipid performances tend to eradicate complacency, which is why Parramatta NRL coach Stephen Kearney knows his players will be ready for a depleted Brisbane on Friday night.

The struggling Eels turned in one of their worst performances of the season in going down to Canberra last weekend, crushing all the hope and momentum created by strong efforts against high-flyers St George Illawarra and Manly.

Up against a Broncos' outfit missing six of their best to Queensland State of Origin commitments, the Eels go into the Parramatta Stadium clash as narrow favourites.

But Kearney said there is no danger of his side under-estimating the Broncos.

"No, not after last week - we're well aware of what the Broncos are capable of," Kearney said on Thursday.

"They played without their stars against Canberra and got away to a flying start. They went within a whisker of beating Melbourne who had their stars in there.

"They've got a culture and a mentality at the Broncos. It doesn't matter who goes on the field, they do a job for them."

One man Kearney is hoping does a job for him on Friday night is Reni Maitua, who is set to play his first match in the NRL in more than two years.

Maitua has played a handful of games for Wentworthville in the NSW Cup since completing his two-year ban for a positive test to a performance-enhancing drug while at Cronulla in 2009.

While Kearney indicated he has not yet decided who to trim from his five-man bench, it appears Maitua will play.

"He's been playing consistently well for our reserve grade side Wentworthville and been doing a good job there - there's a good chance that he'll get an opportunity tomorrow night," Kearney said.

Maitua admitted the nerves which gripped him before his NSW Cup return had diminished, replaced instead by an expectation to perform.

"There was a few critics saying that I wouldn't be able to make it back so I'm pretty proud of what I've achieved so far, but the job's not done yet," Maitua said.

"I want to be able to not only make it back but play well, as well.

"I hope I can bring something to the team."

While he hasn't been a part of the squad, Maitua is under no illusions as to the predicament the Eels find themselves in with just four wins to their name from 14 games this year.

And it's why stars or no stars, he knows the Broncos will provide stiff competition for his new side.

"It's more of a pressure game that they don't have their big stars with them," Maitua said.

"Looking at where we're sitting on the table, it's definitely a game we have to win."

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