League great Phil Gould says the Parramatta Eels are “kidding themselves” if they think they are NRL premiership contenders, despite currently sitting third on the ladder.
Only the Penrith Panthers and the Melbourne Storm are currently ahead of Brad Arthur’s side, but Gould doesn’t believe they can win the premiership, even after the Eels defeated the Storm 14-0 in Round 15.
Parramatta faces the ladder-leaders in Round 18, and Gould said that clash will prove pivotal in whether the Eels asser themselves as a legitimate contender.
“They haven’t got it at the moment, but they have got a game in a couple of weeks against the Panthers, and that’s the stand-up game,” he told Nine’s 100% Footy.
“It’s always in the last month heading into finals, I used to love to play one of the top contenders at that time to make a statement that we’re in this title race.
“They’re not in the title race at the moment, they’re kidding themselves if they think they are, but that game in a couple of weeks when they play the top side, that’s the one they’ve got to win.
“They got a cheap win against the Storm because the Storm had all those players out, so they’ve got to target someone at full strength and say alright, this is our D-Day, this is where we prove we can win this competition.
“If they don’t do it in that game, they’ll so much self doubts going into the finals they won’t get it done.”
When questioned why he didn’t believe in Parramatta, Gould cited the side’s inability to capitalise on big leads in several games this season.
“They just haven’t got the underbelly, they haven’t got it under the shirt,” he said.
“I’ve looked at some of their second halves this year against quality sides, they’ve frittered away big leads.
“The ones that really got me were, they led Raiders 24-12, and then ended up in golden point or near enough to golden point. A couple of other games they narrowly got home.
“The other night against the Melbourne Storm they were far from impressive.
“Parramatta are the sort of side that can jump out of the blocks and go six, 12, 18 and lead 18-0 and they can do it against anyone, they’ve just got that little bit of flair about them.
“If that doesn’t happen and they get into a street fight it’s not their cup of tea.”