As Penrith and Parramatta prepare for the latest chapter in their explosive Western Sydney rivalry, Panthers star James Fisher-Harris has welcomed the prospect of the Eels seeking revenge for last year’s grand final defeat.
- Panthers star James Fisher-Harris declared Penrith is ready for the Eels’ attempts at revenge in Thursday’s grand final rematch
- Fisher-Harris infamously declared “Parra are our sons” after Penrith’s grand final triumph last year
- The Eels are outsiders and could fall to 0-4 with another defeat
Fisher-Harris courted controversy in the days after Penrith’s premiership win when he declared “Parra are our sons” at the club’s Mad Monday celebrations last October.
The Eels might have extra motivation to end their winless start of the season, and Fisher-Harris said the defending premiers were ready to fight fire with fire in Thursday’s local derby.
“I just got a little bit carried away there. We love that rivalry, and I said what I said. I know they’re going to be fired up, and that’s what we want. We love rivalries,” said Fisher-Harris.
“I don’t want to play a team that mucks around; I want to play a team that wants to go at it. I think it brings out better footy.
“It’ll be a big one. I know they’ll be up for it, but we always love those games. We’re not shying away from anything, and we know they won’t be, so we’re looking forward to that one.”
Penrith was dominant in its 28-12 victory over the Eels in last year’s decider, with Fisher-Harris leading from the front.
The hard-nosed Kiwi will again be in the thick of things at Parramatta Stadium on Thursday in what promises to be an explosive clash with Eels forwards Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard.
While Penrith is yet to hit the heights of previous years after starting the season with a win, a loss and a bye, Fisher-Harris was confident the two-time defending champions would find their groove soon enough.
“It’s just one week at a time. It was a close game [against Brisbane]; it’s not like it was a blowout or anything. We have some good foundations,” said Fisher-Harris.
“We missed a whole lot of opportunities, and we missed a lot against Souths as well, but I thought our defence saved us. We’re just getting better and better each week, and that’s all we can focus on.
“It’s just time and more practice together. Mostly everyone was in the World Cup, so we’re still getting our timings and bearings together.”
Parramatta is expected to welcome back star forward Ryan Matterson following a four-match ban for a crusher tackle on Dylan Edwards in the grand final loss.
The Eels will be looking to avoid starting the season with four straight losses.