NRL 2019: Clint Gutherson column on Eels vs Storm semi final, Magic Round score

Ahead of Parramatta’s must-win semi final showdown with the Storm in Melbourne, Eels captain Clint Gutherson pens an exclusive column for foxsports.com.au.

As much as we have tried to forget it, everyone remembers what happened the last time we met Melbourne.

It was a 64-10 loss in Magic Round, and it hurt.

As players you have to try to put the result behind you and move on as quick as you can, because there’s always another game a week later.

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But, obviously, as a team you try to take some lessons from it.

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It’s not that that game was a turning point for us or anything outrageous like that, but we definitely learned a couple of things.

And let me assure our fans right now – Parramatta is a different team now to the one that lost that day.

By my count we’ve won 11 of our 15 games since Magic Round. We have grown, changed, and become a better side.

Now it’s time for some payback.

Clint Gutherson of the Eels is seen looking dejected during the Magic Round thumping in Brisbane.
Clint Gutherson of the Eels is seen looking dejected during the Magic Round thumping in Brisbane.Source: Getty Images

We want to prove a point to everyone who watched that game – we’re a better team than that.

It was embarrassing to lose that game the way we did, to lose by that much on such a big weekend.

We know we can beat Melbourne and, luckily, we get a chance to do that on Saturday.

You need to beat the best to get to the top, and that’s where we’re aiming.

We’ve got belief and confidence within our group that we can go down there and do the job.

We realise we have to be at our best but every single person in the club knows we have it in us.

There’s not many more daunting tasks in rugby league than playing Melbourne in Melbourne … but especially playing the Storm after a loss.

But stats and history don’t matter to us this week.

We’ve come this far – a long way over the past 12 months as a group – and we know we can go further.

Does experience matter?

Does experience matter?

1:05

MY FIRST FINALS SERIES

I have to admit my first finals games was a bit of a shock … I don’t think anyone was expecting the scoreline we put on Brisbane last week.

Our preparation for the game was spot on.

Brad took the whole playing group up the coast at the start of the week, got us out of Sydney so we could spend quality time together as a squad and reset.

We wanted to treat this finals series like the start of a new season. The regular season was behind us and we had to refresh and restart.

It was really good, to get out of Sydney and train with the boys.

I’m not normally an overly vocal captain anyway, but I took a bit of a back seat last week given it was also my first NRL final.

I sort of handed the reins over to guys like Michael Jennings and Blake Ferguson, two guys who have a lot of big-game and finals experience.

Bennett backs Burgess stance

Bennett backs Burgess stance

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Those boys spoke to the group, as well as Brad, and I was happy to sit back and take it all in.

This week hasn’t been too different.

We didn’t want to change too much of what we did last week to prepare, even though it’s a different opposition.

Brad is trying to keep our preparation as normal as possible.

We’ll fly to Melbourne on Friday ready to run onto AAMI Park for the biggest game of my career.

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