Parramatta centre Waqa Blake has come under fire recently for his defensive reads.
Parramatta centre Waqa Blake has come under fire recently for his defensive reads.

Troubled Eel enters his very own video bunker

Michael Jennings turned coach on Tuesday as he embarked on a one-on-one video session with out-of-sorts Parramatta teammate Waqa Blake in a bid to avoid a smashing from the red-hot South Sydney.

Blake has come under fire for his defensive reads, prompting the likes of Mal Meninga to question his place in the team after the Eels's right edge was exposed in their loss to Melbourne on Saturday night.

Jennings revealed Blake had reached out ahead of a likely Cody Walker-led onslaught on Saturday night.

Jennings said Blake's decisions are "usually frantic" and he has urged him to remain calm as he prepares to face a side that's scored 106 points over the past two weeks.

 

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The heat has come on Blake as Parramatta’s right edge prepares to take on South Sydney’s Alex Johnston.
The heat has come on Blake as Parramatta’s right edge prepares to take on South Sydney’s Alex Johnston.

"He wanted to sit down straight away and do some video," Jennings said.

"I said 'yeah man'. "We just watched clips for about 10 minutes. It's about being patient and calm and working with the edge. When you work as an edge you're defending well.

"He loves video. I hate video."

Jennings' experience will be invaluable for Blake this week with Walker and halves partner Adam Reynolds tormenting teams in recent weeks.

The veteran centre, who is two games short of joining the illustrious 300 club, identified what has gone wrong for Blake in recent weeks.

"He is a great defender," Jennings said.

"Tackling is not the issue. My advice has been to be patient and calm. It's sad he has been singled out, which you do as a centre. It's one of the hardest positions. When you make a mistake on the edge, it's usually the centres decision.

"The decision he makes are usually frantic. We spoke about that. That whole edge needs to be accountable. Not just Waqa. That's why it's sad he gets singled out."

Jennings has stepped in at the request of Blake to see if he can help address some areas where the right side is lapsing in defence.
Jennings has stepped in at the request of Blake to see if he can help address some areas where the right side is lapsing in defence.


 

Blake said Jennings' knowledge was instrumental in his preparation.

"He's a very experienced centre, he knows a lot and he's a great defender," Blake said. He's been helping me out heaps.

"I can brush [the outside noise]. I know what I'm capable of and what we are as an edge."

Blake has defended on the right alongside Blake Ferguson, Mitch Moses and Ryan Matterson. They will oppose the game's leading tryscorer in Alex Johnston. Blake trained in the place of the injured Ferguson on the wing on Tuesday with Jennings and Brad Takairangi taking turns at right centre. Jennings' brother George will replace Maika Sivo on the left side.

Ferguson is expected to undergo a fitness test on Wednesday night after being named to start on the wing as he battled a knee injury.

Blake said the whole right edge had to work together.

Blake explained he had turned to Jennings because “he’s a great defender. He’s been helping me out heaps”.
Blake explained he had turned to Jennings because “he’s a great defender. He’s been helping me out heaps”.

 

"We haven't been defending well as an edge and as a group, but when we do we're very good," Blake said. "We know what to fix. We just have to go out there and stick to what the coach tells us to do.

"I'm a centre, but when players go down you put the team first. I've played on the wing before.

"I'll play anywhere for the team. Wherever (coach Brad Arthur) wants me to play I'll play. We're hoping Fergie (Ferguson) will be ready.

"Fergie came in (on Tuesday), he watched the session and had ice on his knee. Hopefully it can settle down and he's back (on Wednesday).

Originally published as Troubled Eel enters his very own video bunker



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